Reckless gunfire leads to criminal charges
The individual allegedly responsible for the gunfire that led to an all-campus emergency alert Sunday will likely be facing charges from the Whitman County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
An individual was shooting for target practice outside of city limits in the direction of Valley Road and the playfields. Some of the bullets landed on the playfield where people were located and a car window was shot out.
"We think there is a potential of 10 bullets that landed near the Valley Road area," said Lt. Steve Hansen from the WSU Police Department.
The incident resulted in an all-campus WSU alert that sent out emergency emails and text messages. The alert warned the community to stay away from the Valley Road area while police investigated the gunfire.
Officers from the Whitman County Sheriff's Office, Pullman Police Department and the WSU Police Department responded to the call.
About 40 minutes after the alert was issued, another one was sent out informing the community that the area was once again safe.
Hansen said they interviewed the individual responsible for discharging the weapon Sunday night following the incident.
The individual's name has not been released yet, but he was identified as a 30-year-old male WSU student, Hansen said. His name will be released once he is formally charged.
Hansen said it was unclear what type of charges the student will face. However, they are considering reckless endangerment as well as charges for violating a statute that prohibits aiming or discharging a weapon in a public place.
It is also possible the individual will pay for the damage done to the car window that was shot out, he said.
The incident is a reminder to be aware of what is behind a target while shooting a gun, he said.
"It's imperative that they are 110 percent sure of where their rounds are going to land if they miss their target," Hansen said.
Fraud cases return to a "normal" level
Pullman police officials say reports of credit and debit card fraud are back to a normal level after months of an increased number of cases.
Between mid-September and the end of January, Pullman police received 841 reports of debit and credit card fraud, said Cmdr. Chris Tennant of the Pullman Police Department.
"It's now back to what I consider what would be a normal level, which is maybe one (report of fraud) a day," Tennant said.
He said detectives believe that all but about 40 or 50 of the cases are from the same major security breach. There is still no confirmation of the source of the breach.
"We have one detective who is pretty much working this case collectively full time," Tennant said.
Currently Pullman detectives are reviewing the cases and closing the investigations without any local leads. They still have about 600 more fraud reports to go through.
"It needs to be done, but it's time consuming and doesn't get us anywhere," Tennant said.
Only one arrest has been made from the cases. Michael Patrick Bell, a 41-year-old Woodinville resident, was arrested by in December for allegedly using debit and credit card information from at least five Pullman-based accounts. Multiple law enforcement agencies worked on the arrest.
Tennant said this fraud case was one of the biggest in Pullman's history in terms of the number of victims, but not necessarily the amount of money stolen.
Alert issued about conterfeit money on campus
Hansen said two fake 20-dollar bills were turned into the WSU police on the same day last week. An alert was issued later that day.
No more counterfeit 20-dollar bills have been turned into police since the alert was posted on the WSU Web site last Thursday.
The message posted on alerts.wsu.edu was meant to inform students of the presence of counterfeit money on campus, he said.
The fake bills were "copies" of the newly minted 20-dollar bills. However, neither had a watermark or security thread, according to the alert.
Hansen said counterfeit bills are not common, but "every now and then we will see them come in."
Anyone who has suspicions about the legitimacy of their bills should contact the police department.