Man in Center Street attack accused of assaulting inmate

Fernando Saenz Jr., awaiting trial in an assault in March, allegedly attacked another man in jail.

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WALLA WALLA -- A Walla Walla County jail inmate remained hospitalized this morning after he reportedly was assaulted early this week by another prisoner.

Erik S. Kessack, 21, of Puyallup, Wash., suffered facial injuries Sunday afternoon in an attack by Fernando Saenz Jr., one of two suspects in bloody, gang-related assaults outside a residence on Center Street in March, according to officials.

Sheriff's Capt. Bill White said today Saenz admitted striking Kessack during a card game in the open area of their cell block, but Saenz told officials he did so in self-defense.

Kessack -- who is awaiting trial for allegedly possessing a stolen vehicle and on other charges -- apparently suffered facial fractures, White said. The right side of Kessack's face was swollen and his right eye was swollen shut. He was taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center for treatment.

Apparently no weapon was involved. Saenz is being investigated for a possible charge of second-degree assault, White said.

Saenz is one of two alleged gang members accused of attacking a group of men with no gang affiliation when they arrived at a party at 1306 Center St. on March 13. Police said he stabbed four people during the early-morning melee. His trial on those charges is scheduled to begin Aug. 31.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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