Charges dismissed in Walla Walla gang shooting

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WALLA WALLA — Charges against a man accused of being involved in a drive-by shooting that wounded three people outside a residence in September have been dismissed in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

The charges can be refiled later, but for the time being, a victim — who is a key witness — has become uncooperative and isn’t willing to testify at a trial, according to authorities.

Eric A. Nordman, 27, had been accused of four counts of first-degree assault and one count of drive-by shooting.

Police believe he was in a Toyota Camry with another person as it drove by 1140 W. Cherry St. about 11:35 p.m. Sept. 13. At least nine shots were fired from the vehicle.

A victim, Jesse Castillo, at one point told police Nordman likely was the driver, with the passenger of the vehicle actually firing the shots. The alleged shooter was not apprehended.

On Monday, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden asked Judge John Lohrmann to dismiss the charges against Nordman because “we’re having a lot of problems with the victim,” referring to Castillo.

Golden explained in an interview with the Union-Bulletin that, although Castillo once identified Nordman as being involved in the crime, Castillo recently claimed he doesn’t remember and doesn’t want to testify at a trial.

Lohrmann signed the dismissal order “without prejudice,” meaning the charges can be refiled if Castillo becomes cooperative or additional evidence comes to light.

Castillo, 21, suffered wounds to his left arm and both legs, according to a police report filed in court. Nelson B. Zuniga, 22, was hit in his left arm. Both reportedly are gang members.

A third victim, Myra Urincho, 21, later was found to have suffered an injury to her buttocks.

Witnesses said a small, metallic-colored car had driven by the area once, then returned and the shots were fired.

Seven spent casings — commonly fired from an SKS- or AK47-style assault rifle — were found at the scene.

One bullet that entered the residence next door at 1144 W. Cherry St. struck a hide-a-bed couch on which 98-year-old Raul Madrigal Corona was sleeping, the police report says. He wasn’t injured.

Police were told the shooting occurred after Nordman had been giving Urincho problems. Castillo reportedly challenged Nordman to fight, but he refused.

When Castillo was shot, he saw the passenger of the vehicle leaning across the driver, whom he identified as Nordman, according to the police report. Castillo told officials the passenger was the one who fired.

Nordman, of 51455 Highway 332, Milton-Freewater, was arrested Sept. 19 in Waitsburg. He was held in the Walla Walla County Jail until Monday when he was released with conditions pending future court appearances in an unrelated attempted-burglary case.

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

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