Probable cause found in Jesus Torres case

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Richard Byrd/Sun Tribune - Jesus Torres appears in Grant County Superior Court last week.

EPHRATA — A judge found probable cause last week for the charges that have filed against a Royal City man in connection with a shooting in Moses Lake that left two people injured in November.

Jesus Torres, 22, of Royal City, entered not guilty pleas in Grant County Superior Court on Tuesday to two counts of first-degree assault and a single count of drive-by shooting. When Torres made his first appearance in court after he was arrested Judge David Estudillo did not find probable cause for the charges and Torres was released from jail without bail being imposed. Estudillo did find probable cause for the charges on Tuesday, however, and Torres was booked into the Grant County Jail. His bail has been set at $500,000.

Torres is accused of shooting a 24-year-old and 19-year-old man at Hansen Road and an Interstate 90 off-ramp near Moses Lake in the evening hours of Nov. 24. Surveillance video obtained by police reportedly indicates the shooting was motivated by believed gang affiliations.

Torres, along with another unidentified person, are believed to have followed the occupants of the victim vehicle after seeing one of the occupants in the vehicle was wearing a red hat and red flannel shirt. That insight is significant because Torres can reportedly be seen in video surveillance footage obtained by police wearing a blue flannel shirt and he is a known Sureño street gang member. Sureños are associated with the color blue and are at odds with the Norteño street gang, which is associated with the color red.

After analyzing the surveillance video police pieced together that Torres and the unidentified person he was with followed the victim vehicle to the location of the shooting after seeing the victim vehicle at a gas station on West Broadway Avenue. Through their investigation police discovered the vehicle Torres is believed to have been in, a Chevrolet Impala, is registered to his sister. Torres and his sister were previously interviewed by Royal City police in connection with a Nov. 14 shooting that left a man injured and Torres indicated he was staying an apartment in the Larson community.

Torres, dressed in a blue flannel shirt, was taken into custody after police surrounded the Craig Street apartment and he was seen entering a Chevy Impala. Ammunition that is the same make, caliber and style as the ammo casing found at the scene of the Moses Lake shooting were reportedly found in Torres’ bedroom. In addition, the ammo is reportedly consistent with the casings found at the scene of the Nov. 14 Royal City shooting. Police also found a Smith and Wesson .380 magazine, a Glock .45 magazine and 7.62 rifle magazine. A search of the Impala revealed a .380 Bersa magazine, a crystalline substance (believed to be methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia.

New findings presented in court, based on the surveillance video, on Tuesday relate to the driver of the Impala having a similar shaped face and hair as Torres. Information was also presented that indicates Torres’ brother, Jonathan Torres, was the unidentified passenger in the Impala.

In addition, Torres’ sister told investigators the vehicle may be registered under her name, but the vehicle belongs to Jesus. She also claimed she did not drive the vehicle on Nov. 24. Deputy Prosecutor Chad Jenks told the court the magazine found in Torres’ bedroom holds 20 bullets, which is the same number of shell casings that were found at the scene of the shooting. A tentative trial date has been set for Jan. 30.

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