Undersheriff Hatcher intends to run for Sheriff Keane's position in November

BENTON COUNTY- Benton County Commissioners announced Tuesday they will open a criminal investigation into the 14,000 rounds of county-owned ammunition found last year at Sheriff Jerry Hatcher’s former home.

Commissioners said they will send a letter next week to Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste to open the investigation.  

Commissioners Shon Small and Jerome Delvin say the letter will ask why thousands of ammunition was found in the sheriff's home eight months ago, after it was discovered by Hatcher's estranged wife, Monica Hatcher, during their divorce hearing late last year. 

Delvin said they held off on opening an investigation due to timing and until they heard back Franklin County Sheriff's office to complete their report on Sheriff Hatcher earlier this year. But he said now was the time to make a formal request. 

"My hope is that it will shine more light, that they will investigate it, that it will shine light on it because the report from Franklin County Sheriff didn't do anything it didn't answer any questions or anything," Delvin said. 

Delvin said ammunition is now back in county possession will be audited by the state to make sure nothing was missed. 

Small said he has been a long-time supporter of the Sheriff but is frustrated that it has gotten to this point. He says it is time for Sheriff Hatcher to leave.

"This is the first time I have said this but, it is time for Sheriff Hatcher to resign and go live happily ever after somewhere else other than being the sheriff of Benton County," Small said.

The new investigation request comes as a Walla Walla County judge ruled last week to move forward with the sheriff's recall effort by Sgt. Jason Erickson with Benton County Sheriff Office. 

In the recall, Sgt. Erickson accused his boss, Sheriff Hatcher of intimidation, theft, and lying in eight charges. The found ammunition is also part of the charges filed against Sheriff Hatcher.  

Sheriff Hatcher's team has 15 days to appeal which according to Sheriff Hatcher's attorney they plan on doing and are confident they will win the appeal. 

Before it moves to the ballot, Sgt. Erickson will need to gather at least 14,000 signatures to hold a special recall election. 

NBC Right Now reached out to Sheriff Hatcher regarding the commissioner's investigation announcement but have not heard back.