Stabbing suspect arraigned for attempted murder

Aaron Zuwala

Two Hermiston men are still in the hospital more than a day after they were stabbed by another man.

A nursing supervisor at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland confirmed that Harold Piercy, 72, and Richard Rukaveno, 64, were receiving treatment at the hospital, but would not offer more about their condition. According to Deputy District Attorney Jaclyn Jenkins, the two men are in intensive care but expected to survive their wounds.

The suspect in the stabbings, Aaron Zuwala, was arrested Monday morning and was arraigned Tuesday afternoon at the Umatilla County Courthouse in Hermiston. He is being charged with two counts of attempted murder, two of first-degree assault, and two of unlawful use of a weapon. According to a release from Hermiston police, all three men knew each other.

Jenkins said one man was stabbed under the chin, and the knife pierced his sinuses. She said the other was stabbed multiple times in the chest, to the point where the knife hit one of the vertebrae in the victim’s spine.

Jenkins appeared by video from the Umatilla County Jail, along with Zuwala.

Jenkins requested Zuwala be held at $200,000 bail and, if released, have no contact with the victims or their families. Judge Eva Temple granted both requests.

Zuwala’s preliminary hearing is Monday, June 11 at 3 p.m. in Hermiston.

Zuwala has had several criminal charges in his background, but this is the first in Umatilla County. He was charged with theft on two separate occasions in 2017, in Jefferson and Deschutes County, for stealing merchandise from grocery stores. He has a charge of criminal mischief in the second degree in Jefferson County that same year, as well as theft in the second degree for stealing more than $100 worth of water from the Deschutes Valley Water District.

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