Vancouver teen sentenced to 18 months in gang confrontation

He pleads guilty, will serve term at juvenile facility

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: November 7, 2011, 7:08 PM

 

A Vancouver 16-year-old was sentenced Monday to spend 18 months in a juvenile institution for firing five rounds at a man during a gang confrontation this spring.

Initially charged with second-degree attempted murder, Zachery A. Flores pleaded guilty to second-degree assault with a deadly weapon enhancement.

Flores was involved in an altercation May 17 that started when his friend was fighting another man in the 3700 block of East 18th Street in central Vancouver. Flores then displayed a handgun to protect his friend, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu. Flores fired numerous rounds in the direction of the man, Erick Butler, who had taken cover behind a vehicle.

Butler wasn’t injured, but a bystander not involved in the altercation was struck by an errant round. The bullet grazed his arm and he didn’t suffer serious injuries, Vu said.

Flores was charged in connection with shooting at Butler, not the bystander; the deputy prosecutor said the bystander did not want to cooperate with authorities or take part in any prosecution.

Butler was charged with chasing Flores with a gun in his hand. His trial is set for Nov. 28. However, Vu said he expects Butler to also resolve his case without going to trial.

Key witness

Vu said Flores was offered a plea deal to a reduced charge because he is a key witness in an unrelated shooting in central Vancouver and has agreed to assist the prosecution in that case. Vu could not comment on details of the second shooting, as charges have yet to be filed.

Defense attorney Matthew Hoff told the judge that his client was an intelligent young man who, unfortunately, already had several juvenile offenses under his belt.

“He has a long way to go in restoring his reputation in the community,” Hoff said.

“This is just a life-learning experience for me,” Flores said when it was his turn to speak.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson decided on a midpoint sentence of the standard sentencing range of three to nine months in jail. A deadly weapon enhancement tacked an additional year onto the sentence.

Flores was charged as an adult, but will serve his sentence in a juvenile corrections facility. He received 173 days of credit for time served in jail.