Man appears in court in suspected drive-by shooting

Vancouver police: Gang associate seeking revenge on rival fired shots at wrong house

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

Police think Norteño gang associate Eddie L. Smith, 20, wanted to exact revenge on his gang rival when, they say, he fired a 12-gauge shotgun at the front window of a house in Vancouver's Northcrest neighborhood.

But the house didn't belong to his rival, police say; it belonged to a 79-year-old woman who was home at the time of the shooting. No one was injured.

"This was a known gang member who did a drive-by shooting and a few doors down was a rival's house," said Vancouver police Sgt. Tim Huberty of the Safe Streets Gang Task Force. "Our indication was that he hit the wrong house, and it belonged to an innocent bystander who happened to be a 79-year-old woman."

Smith was arrested Thursday and appeared in Clark County Superior Court Friday on suspicion of second-degree assault and drive-by shooting. Judge Gregory Gonzales held him in lieu of $50,000 bail and appointed Vancouver attorney Tom Phelan to defend him. Smith is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Thursday.

Vancouver police responded to the 79-year-old woman's home in the 6500 block of Kansas Street just before 2 a.m. April 19 after multiple 911 reports of gunfire.

One of the witnesses reported hearing the shots and then seeing a Geo Metro with a black passenger door leave the area. Police found three expended shotgun shells in the roadway. The shots caused minor damage to the front of the house.

Patrol officers located and stopped a suspect vehicle, which was occupied by three people. Witnesses positively identified it as the vehicle in the area at the time of the shooting, according to court records. Police obtained a warrant to search the contents of a cellphone inside the vehicle and found text messages, which showed that Smith had "a desire to commit the drive-by shooting," wrote Clark County sheriff's Detective Erik Zimmerman in a court affidavit.

"What ya up 2 g," Smith's friend wrote in a text message to Smith, who goes by the nickname "Tico El Rico," according to court records.

"Tryna get a ride to go blast someones house but nobodys down," Smith allegedly replied.

About 20 minutes after the text message exchange, witnesses of the shooting began to call 911, Zimmerman wrote.

After seeing a photo on Facebook of Smith holding a shotgun, which was similar to the suspected weapon, police obtained another search warrant and served it Thursday on Smith's residence, 311 Little Rock Way.

During the search, police seized three firearms, including a 12-gauge shotgun, and arrested Smith.

Smith denied any involvement in the shooting and claimed to have no knowledge of the firearms found in his house, according to court records.

However, when police showed Smith a mugshot of his rival, who belongs to the Sureño gang, Smith admitted that he'd had a previous altercation with the man and that he would spit in his face if he had the opportunity.

"Based upon this investigation, this hatred and rivalry is the motive for the attack, which was likely intended for (Smith's rival)," Zimmerman wrote.