Officials: DNA links suspect to Walla Walla gang assault

Roberto Reyes Arroyo, 23, was charged Wednesday with second-degree assault, fourth-degree assault and riot.

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WALLA WALLA — A second suspect has been charged with participating in an attack on two pedestrians in the area of Chase Avenue and Maple Street early last year.

Roberto Reyes Arroyo, 23, is accused of second-degree assault, fourth-degree assault and riot.

The charges, filed Wednesday in Walla Walla County Superior Court, are based on DNA evidence allegedly discovered on a shoe police seized from Arroyo a couple of days after the attacks.

Officials claim Arroyo was among about 10 suspected gang members who surrounded William D. Hale Jr. and Kevin J. Reynolds and assaulted them as they were walking home from a local tavern about 11:55 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2013.

Shots from an air gun apparently were fired during the attack.

Hale and Reynolds reportedly had just encountered two teenage boys who asked if they were “gang banging.” The victims said they are not gang members and were only walking home.

A short time later, the large group appeared, confronted Hale and Reynolds with gang references and started attacking them, according to a police report filed in court.

The victims tried to defend themselves. But Hale was hit and kicked in the head, suffering facial injuries, including a depressed fracture of a nasal bone. He also received treatment at Walla Walla General Hospital for a BB wound to his right hand.

According to a state crime lab report, a DNA typing profile concluded Hale is a potential contributor to a mixture of blood found on Arroyo’s shoe.

“It is 62 million times more likely that the observed DNA profile occurred as a result of a mixture of William Hale and an unrelated male than that it originated from two unrelated individuals selected at random from the U.S. population,” the report says.

Arroyo, of 1166 W. Elm St., is being summoned to court March 3 for his first appearance.

He is the second suspect to be charged in the case.

Juan Venegas Esquivel, now 20, was charged in May with the same crimes of which Arroyo is accused.

In an interview with authorities, Esquivel reportedly admitted being at the location of the assaults, but maintained he walked away and didn’t hit the victims.

Esquivel also told police he is not a gang member, but has hung out with members since he was a kid.

He is not jailed in connection with the charges, which still are pending.

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

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