Charges pending in cat shooting case

Prosecutors don't know yet whether trio will be tried as adults

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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Prosecutors don’t yet know whether they will try three teenagers accused of shooting at least 100 cats as adults.

Mitchell S. Kangas, 16, Jaren M. Koistinen, 16, and Riley J. Munger, 17, were automatically remanded to Clark County Superior Court after being booked in jail Sunday on suspicion of drive-by shooting, a violent offense.

By Washington law, juveniles older than 15 facing a violent offense are automatically remanded to adult court.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield said Friday she hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll charge the teens with drive-by shooting. She’s also considering charges of animal cruelty, possession of a loaded weapon in a vehicle and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

If the teens are charged with the crimes other than drive-by shooting -- those that aren’t considered violent offenses in Washington -- they will be tried as juveniles, Banfield said.

The three were expected to appear in court Friday morning, but agreed to postpone their arraignment to June 28 to give prosecutors time to review the case.

Banfield said she expects a decision on charges by next week.

Koistinen and Kangas are sophomores at Battle Ground High School and Munger is a junior at La Center High School.

The three were arrested Sunday night in Battle Ground after a resident reported that her cat was shot in the face. She saw the shooters and described their SUV to police, according to court documents.

When the teens’ Ford Explorer was stopped by a police officer minutes later, two .22-caliber rifles and several hundred rounds of ammunition were found inside, according to Battle Ground police. When questioned, Kangas allegedly admitted to shooting 50 cats, two dogs and a deer in northern Clark County over the past two months, according to court documents.

Banfield said at the teens’ first court appearance that investigators believe at least 100 cats were shot.

All three have been released from the Clark County Jail after posting bond.