WALLA WALLA -- Officials believe two suspects in last week's slaying in western Walla Walla County have fled to California.
Sheriff's deputies have received information that a boy about 17 years old, a man in his 20s and another man who all live in Modesto, Calif., were attending a small party at a woodworking shop at 524 Basin Drive in Burbank early Friday morning when shots were fired, Capt. Bill White said.
Found dead at the scene about 8 a.m. that day was Jose Ramon Hernandez-Solis, 37, who lived in Pasco, but operated the Burbank shop, according to a Sheriff's Office report. An autopsy revealed he died from two gunshot wounds in and near his neck.
The teenager and younger man may have left the scene in an early 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. White said both suspects had been visiting in the Tri-Cities area. Officials have only sketchy information about their identities, but are tracking leads.
The other man, Jesus Albert Mendoza Camacho, was located about midnight Friday. He, too, was returning to California after the shooting. But a relative called him and persuaded him to return to Pasco. He was held in the Walla Walla County Jail over the weekend on investigation of complicity to second-degree murder. But Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden said Camacho will not be charged in connection with the crime. He is cooperating in the investigation, telling authorities he was passed out from drinking and awoke after he heard gunshots.
Camacho also said he earlier saw a gun in the teenager's belt line, leading officials to speculate the youth may have been the shooter, White said. Camacho still was at the County Jail this morning on an immigration hold.
White said Hernandez-Solis' body was discovered by a man who worked for him.
Camacho, Hernandez-Solis and the two suspects apparently started drinking at the shop about 10:30 Thursday night, according to the Sheriff's Office report. A couple of neighbors heard what could have been gunshots sometime after 4 a.m. Friday. One of the neighbors also saw an SUV leave quickly and another person walk toward a house on the property.
The occupants of the house told deputies that Camacho had come in about that time and asked if he could get a ride. "According to witnesses he seemed scared and said he was left there," the sheriff's report says. Camacho then apparently left on foot.
A motive for the killing hasn't been established. It doesn't appear to be related to a robbery because money was found at the scene. A man -- who dropped beer off at the gathering earlier and then left -- said people were singing karaoke-style and talking, according to White.
"They were having a good time," White said. "We don't know what happened, what led to this."
Terry McConn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8319.