Dayton man booked on firearm theft charges

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A 33-year-old Dayton man, who confessed in February to a burglary in Dayton, was booked in the Columbia County Jail on Tuesday after being transferred from the Walla Walla County jail.

Scott Watkins had been serving time in Walla Walla on an outstanding warrant with the state Department of Corrections for a previous burglary in Walla Walla County. He was brought to Columbia County on Tuesday after his term in Walla Walla was completed.

Watkins was charged by the Columbia County prosecuting attorney in February with three counts of firearms theft and possession. His bail was set at $150,000. He will be arraigned Thursday in Columbia County Superior Court.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Watkins stole two .22-caliber rifles, a .50-caliber muzzleloader rifle, about 50 knives and various other items from a shop on South Second Street in Dayton on Jan. 29.

Watkins’ brother, Eric Van Zandt, was originally arrested by Columbia County sheriff’s deputies and charged with the theft. The stolen items had been recovered by deputies from a trailer owned by Van Zandt.

On Feb. 11, while in custody in Walla Walla, Watkins told Columbia County deputies that he, and not Van Zandt, committed the January burglary.

Ken Graham can be reached at kengraham@wwub.com or 540-2752.

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