Tables turned in reported assault at Touchet store

A man released Thursday from prison is accused of trying to attack a delivery man the same day at the Touchet Mercantile.

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TOUCHET -- A Quincy, Wash.-area man has been arrested hours after being released from the Washington State Penitentiary.

Luis A. Ballesteros, 19, was detained Thursday in the storage area of the Touchet Mercantile shop, 16284 West Highway 12, after a delivery man encountered him in the shop's back storage room.

Walla Walla County sheriff's Capt. Bill White reports that Ballesteros had been released from the penitentiary early Thursday, and was on a bus heading to Quincy, where he was supposed to meet with his probation officer.

"He didn't even get to his probation officer before he broke the law," White said.

Ballesteros apparently got off the bus and sought shelter in the Touchet store. White said surveillance video from the shop shows Ballesteros bypassing store employees and walking through the store into the storage area.

Ballesteros was discovered about 7 a.m. by a delivery man, Joseph D. Hunt, of Kennewick, who was finishing his order and storing products in the storage area. Ballesteros apparently shut the door on Hunt and tried to grab him, but was overpowered and subdued by Hunt, whom White described as bigger than Ballesteros.

Hunt then called out to the store's employees for help, and together they detained Ballesteros until law enforcement arrived.

White said Ballesteros was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault and second-degree burglary and booked into Walla Walla County Jail.

Hunt was not injured during the encounter. White also said that a young girl, about 6 or 7 years old, who had been sleeping in the storage room, was not hurt or disturbed. White said the girl is the daughter of an employee and was apparently resting in the back area before school.

Ballesteros apparently saw the sleeping girl when he first walked in, did not disturb her, but went through her backpack as well as goods in the storage room, White said.

During the struggle between Hunt and Ballesteros, the child woke up but was not fully aware of what was occurring, White said.

White said he believed Ballesteros had been in the penitentiary for similar assaults, and did not appear to have a good record during his incarceration.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/schoolhousemissives.

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