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Milton-Freewater drive-by shooting leads to attempted murder charges

Suspect Michael Angelo Cantu arrested at work after being released from jail on bail
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on August 23, 2018 5:05PM

Michael Angelo Cantu

Michael Angelo Cantu

Michael Angelo Cantu of Walla Walla faces charges of attempted murder for Friday night’s drive-by shooting in Milton-Freewater.

The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday arraigned Cantu, 27, on the following: three counts of attempted murder; two counts of unlawful use of a weapon; one for felon in possession of a firearm, all felonies; and seven misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person.

Court records don’t indicate if Cantu entered a plea. His next hearing is Sept. 11. For now, he remains in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, in lieu of $1.81 million bail.

The charges come from a secret indictment, according to court records, which a grand jury handed up Tuesday after hearing from four witnesses, including two Milton-Freewater police officers.

Cantu is one of four suspects in the shooting, which Milton-Freewater police reported was gang related. There were no injuries. He was in jail in Walla Walla for attempting to elude a police vehicle, according to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, but posted bail Tuesday. Milton-Freewater police took Cantu into custody Wednesday afternoon in Pendleton.

Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said Milton-Freewater police detective Morgan Dunlap asked for help in contacting Cantu, who works at Keystone RV off Westgate in Pendleton. Dunlap and Pendleton officers met with Cantu, and the detective booked the suspect into the Pendleton jail on the secret indictment.

Charley Lozano Magana and Juan Venegas Esquivel, both 24 and Walla Walla residents, remain in jail in Walla Walla. The Union-Bulletin reported they appeared Thursday in Walla Walla County Superior Court and waived extradition to face charges in Umatilla County.

Police reported the fourth suspect is a juvenile but have not released his identity.

The shooting took place late Friday, according to police, and the suspects fled in a vehicle to Walla Walla, where law enforcement spotted and pursued them. They crashed near 5-Mile Road, bailed out and ran.

Officers soon caught Magana and Esquivel, and later arrested Cantu. Walla Walla police reported catching the juvenile took a bit more effort,

After the crash, Farel joined the search for the suspects. Farel is one of the police dogs for Walla Walla. Farel found a piece of clothing and tracked the scent to a nearby winery.

“Officers found people outside enjoying an event,” according to a written statement from Walla Walla police, “and were advised the suspect took an Uber.”

Police called the ride service and arrested the teen in Milton-Freewater.


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