14-year-old boy arrested in Yakima knife attack

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 14-year-old boy was arrested over the weekend after Yakima police said he assaulted several people, punching some and attacking others with a knife.

Officers responded about noon on Sunday to reports of an assault with a knife at a home near North 61st and West Lincoln avenues. Witnesses told police the suspect, a 14-year-old boy, had left the house walking south.

Police reportedly found four assault victims; two had been punched, one suffered a “superficial” cut to the side from the knife and another had knife wounds to the head, hands and finger. None of the wounds were life-threatening.

Yakima police Chief Matthew Murray said officers had contacted the teen before and were aware that he had mental health issues. Officers looked for the teen — who had left the home after the assault — and found him walking west on Summitview Avenue with the knife still in hand.

“We’re responding to a situation that’s very, very serious already and when officers arrive, eventually the 14-year-old comes out of the house with the knife, and confronts the officers,” Murray said.

Murray said officers asked the teen to drop the knife and when he refused, shot him twice in the thigh with “less-lethal rounds” — in this case, they used bean bag rounds fired from a shotgun.

“We were able to use less lethal tactics to disarm that person and take him into custody for his safety, the community’s safety, to treat the other patients and then to get him in a place where he can get the help he needs,” Murray said.

The teen was arrested on suspicion of two counts of first-degree domestic violence assault and four counts of domestic violence assault.

“In the old days, this would have looked a lot different,” Murray said. “I think that those officers are to be commended.”

Murray said he’s proud of the officers involved for slowing things down and preventing what could have been a lethal situation. The incident comes just days after Yakima police officers received “Deliberate De-escalation” training, designed to help officers de-escalate crisis situations.

“Families have often said to us, ‘We call the police for help; we don’t call so that our child ends up dead,'” Murray said. “And I know that’s a stark thing to say, but that’s the truth.”

Murray said years ago, when police responded to incidents where someone has been stabbed or threatened with a knife or gun, the situation often ended in an officer-involved shooting because they didn’t have access to many less-lethal options.

“When I came on in the early 90s, there were no less-lethal options or very, very little and now, we have a lot available to us,” Murray said. “I think people see them and they don’t think they’re pretty and I understand that, but in the end, it does resolve a lot of these situations without having to resort to deadly force.”