WALLA WALLA -- A 16-year-old area youth has been formally charged in Walla Walla County Superior Court with attacking a delivery truck driver earlier this month behind Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts, 481 N. Wilbur Ave.
Robert L. Deleon faces one count each of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and second-degree vehicle prowl. The charges were filed Tuesday afternoon in the court's Juvenile Department. A hearing may be scheduled later to determine if the case should be transferred to adult court.
If convicted, Deleon could be incarcerated for several years.
Walla Walla police arrested him Wednesday at Lincoln Alternative High School and booked him into the Juvenile Justice Center. He is accused of being one of two male teenagers involved in a confrontation with Jonathan Dickson of Portland near the back door of Jo-Ann's about 8 p.m. Feb. 2.
Dickson reportedly had been in the cab of his truck when he heard noises and came upon Deleon and the other teen who allegedly had broken into the semi's trailer, according to a police report filed in court. Dickson retrieved a hammer that he found on the ground and cornered the teens. Deleon then struck Dickson with a decorative lantern that had been taken from the trailer, police said.
A sweatshirt reportedly worn by Deleon was ripped and he lost both of his tennis shoes in the struggle before he and the other teen ran from the scene.
Deleon, of 525 S.E. Sixth St., College Place, was identified as a suspect because markings on the hammer match graffiti Deleon earlier had confessed to spray painting in Walla Walla last month, the police report says. Also, police obtained video from earlier on the day of the robbery reportedly showing Deleon wearing similar clothing.
In an interview with police before he was arrested, Deleon admitted entering the trailer and assaulting Dickson, according to the police report. The second suspect hasn't been arrested.
Dickson was treated at a local hospital for facial lacerations following the assault.
Police spokesman Officer Tim Bennett said officials don't consider the attack gang-related and aren't referring to Deleon as a gang member, even though Deleon has been charged with spray painting the gang-style graffiti at numerous locations in town.