EPHRATA - The alleged shooter in an early September injury shooting in Ephrata is now facing two counts of first-degree attempted murder.
The suspect, 21-year-old Juan Valentin, was initially charged with two counts of first-degree assault but prosecutors amended the charges up to two counts of first-degree attempted murder on Tuesday. Valentin is currently being held at the Grant County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The charges relate to a Sept. 6 shooting at the Short Stop gas station on Basin Street in Ephrata. Ephrata police were able to obtain video surveillance that reportedly shows a white Ford pickup truck, driven by a female with a male in the passenger seat, pull up to the gas station in the evening hours on Sept. 6.
A Honda Accord showed up moments later and parked on the east side of the gas pumps. The male in the Ford, Francisco J. Romero, reportedly looked over at the Accord, after which Valentin allegedly exited the Accord, walked to the truck, retrieved a black item, went back to the driver’s side door and leaned in toward the car momentarily, after which he stood straight up and tucked “something” into his waistband, according to court documents.
Valentin entered the gas station and a short time later a motorcycle drove by on Basin Street. Romero reportedly made a hand gesture toward the motorcyclist, identified as Peter Flores, 25, and Flores turned around and parked in front of the Ford. The two men chatted for a bit and when Valentin exited the gas station Flores reportedly turned his attention to him.
Valentin and Flores exchanged words and at some point Valentin pulled a handgun out of his waistband and fired several shots at Flores. At least one round struck the Ford, which prompted Romero to fire, exchanging shots with Valentin. After the shots were fired Valentin reportedly spoke with his girlfriend, Sheena Montalvo, 24, and fled the area on foot.
Responders located Flores a few blocks away from the gas station and found he was suffering from gunshot wounds to his abdomen and arm. He was airlifted to Confluence Health-Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee. Before he was transported however a small plastic baggie containing heroin was found in one of his socks, which is why he is currently facing a charge of possession of a controlled substance.
Montalvo reportedly picked up some shell casings near the Honda after the shooting and is facing a charge of attempting to render criminal assistance. Romero was detained at the scene by police, but he was ultimately released after police determined he wasn’t a suspect at that time. Court documents indicate Valentin, Flores and Romero are all gang members.
Richard Byrd can be reached via email at email@example.com.