Pasco Police have arrested a second suspect in connection with a string of armed robberies that happened earlier this week in Kennewick and Pasco.
Eric Perez-Bernal, 19, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon. He had been identified as a person of interest in connection with the robberies after a 16-year old old suspect was arrested Thursday morning. Perez-Bernal was spotted in the area of the Carriage Square Apartments at 24th and Court. When he saw police, he tried eluding police on foot. Officers observed the suspect tossing something into a parked car as he ran by. Officers recovered a silver-colored revolver from that vehicle, which matched the description of the firearm that was used in the robberies. Perez-Bernal was booked into the Franklin County Jail on suspicion of First Degree Robbery and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
Police say the robbers deliberately targeted Spanish-speaking farm workers who typically wait outside for rides to work during early-morning hours. Officers are concerned that there may have been other robberies, and that the victims might be concerned about coming forward to report the crimes.
So far, Police have connected the suspects to two robberies in Pasco. The first happened on Tuesday morning at about 3:30 AM near the intersection of 24th and Ruby. Two Spanish-speaking field workers waiting for a ride to work when they were robbed at gunpoint. The witnesses say the suspect was a man with a dark complexion who brandished a silver revolver, and demanded their cash and cell phones. Officers were able to get security camera footage of the robbery from a nearby home’s security video recording.
The second known Pasco incident happened Wednesday morning at about 4:00 AM, near 24th and Ella. Again, a Spanish-speaking field worker was loading his car for work when he was approached by a young adult Hispanic male with a dark complexion and fluent in Spanish, threatened him with a revolver. The suspect the victim’s wallet and cash, then ran to a black SUV parked nearby and occupied by a second person. A short time later, a victim in Kennewick reported being robbed by a similar suspect in a similar black SUV near at the Heatherstone Apartments on W. 10th.
Pasco patrol officers and the Street Crimes Unit conducted surveillance in the Pasco neighborhood that had been hit twice in two days. At about 3:30 AM Thursday morning, SCU Sergeant Jason
Miller saw a black SUV drive into the neighborhood recklessly. He attempted to stop it. It ran from him, going southbound over the Blue Bridge into Kennewick. Pasco officers followed it, and determined that the SUV had been stolen from a garage in west Pasco sometime Wednesday night. It drove into the Kennewick Highlands on Highway 395, then turned around and came northbound on 395. After sideswiping the concrete divider between Clearwater and Yelm, the driver of the stolen SUV attempted to turn left on Yelm toward Canal but hit the highway noise barrier hard and came to a stop on Yelm. The driver was a sixteen-year-old male from West Richland who has not been identified because of his age. He was arrested and booked into Juvenile Detention on suspicion of Residential Burglary, Auto Theft, Eluding, and Robbery First Degree. No weapons were found in the SUV.
By Thursday afternoon, investigators had identified 19-year-old Eric Perez-Bernal as the possible second robbery suspect. He was spotted Thursday afternoon, with a pistol in his waistband. That’s when he was arrested following a short foot chase.
Pasco Police would like to talk to anyone who might have been robbed recently but did not call police about it.