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Crime-and-courts
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Student critically injured on Elko High campus

ELKO – A juvenile student at Elko High School was critically injured last week when he was punched by another student, but charges are not being filed at this time.

Elko County Superintendent of Schools Todd Pehrson said the incident occurred Thursday outdoors on campus and involved two 16-year-old males.

Elko District Attorney Tyler Ingram explained his decision to delay charges in a press release distributed Tuesday afternoon.

“In general, the juvenile suspect is alleged to have punched the juvenile victim which resulted in very serious injuries,” Ingram stated. “While the Elko County District Attorney’s Office is receiving periodic updates on the alleged juvenile victim’s condition, his prognosis is not yet clear. Obviously, we are all hopeful that he will make a full recovery. He and his family are in our thoughts and we wish them the best.”

The suspect was taken into custody but will likely be released Wednesday if no action is taken on the case. Ingram explained that juveniles must be charged within four days under Nevada law, or released.

“With the alleged juvenile victim’s prognosis unclear, I am unable to make fully informed decisions on how to proceed with prosecution at this time,” Ingram stated.

Pehrson did not know the motive behind the altercation.

“I can speculate there were issues,” Pehrson said. “I don’t know any of the details as far as why they came to that act.”

If charges were filed now, Ingram said the most serious offense would be battery resulting in substantial bodily harm.

“In the event that the alleged juvenile victim succumbs to his injuries, jurisdiction may fall within the adult court,” Ingram stated. Prosecuting the case in juvenile court could jeopardize the district attorney’s ability to prosecute the juvenile suspect for homicide if the injured teen dies.

In his release, Ingram quotes the Nevada law behind his decision and explains his reasoning.

“For example, if I make the decision to file a petition alleging battery resulting in substantial bodily harm and the juvenile suspect admits to committing that act or the juvenile court begins to take evidence at a hearing regarding the petition, and the alleged juvenile victim later passes away as a result of his injuries, the juvenile suspect could not be charged with the death of the alleged juvenile victim because it would be an offense based on the same conduct as that alleged in the petition,” he wrote. “That would not be justice for the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s family, and for the community.”

Pehrson said that upon viewing video of the incident, he doubted having law enforcement on site could have stopped it in time.

“It’s unfortunate,” he continued. “I feel for both of the students.”

The district is following all applicable laws and policies, Pehrson added.

“All we care about is the safety of our kids,” he said.

Ingram said although his decision will result in the suspect’s release, he does not believe the public is in danger.

“… [T]he purpose of this press release is to inform the community that I do not have any reason to believe that the juvenile suspect’s release from custody will place the community in danger,” Ingram wrote, adding that he was informed the suspect will not be allowed to return to school.

“The outcome of this incident is horrific and not forgotten,” Ingram wrote.

Ingram said he updated Police Chief Ben Reed, Elko County Sheriff Aitor Narvaiza, Elko County School Resource Officers, and the alleged victim’s family of his decision prior to issuing his press release.


Local
top story
Private funds will help reseed canyon

PLEASANT VALLEY — Snow sprayed in the wind beneath a helicopter in a field near Pleasant Valley the morning of Jan. 22 as the aircraft hooked onto a hopper carrying about 1,000 pounds of native plant seeds to scatter in the Ruby Mountains.

Over the next few days, the pilot will disperse a total of 25,000 pounds of native seed, such as grasses, sagebrush and bitterbrush, over about 2,500 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in and around Lamoille Canyon.

Reseeding is necessary on the approximately 10,000 acres of the area’s iconic Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and private land that burned during last year’s Owl Creek and Range Two fires.

Plant life will help stabilize the soil, resist nonnatives, replace some of the vegetation that burned, and provide food and habitat for wildlife. Winter is a crucial time for reseeding, as snow helps the plants get established in the spring thaw.

The USFS, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Department of Wildlife and Nevada Division of Forestry — along with private organizations and volunteers — have been working together to rehabilitate the burned areas.

In mid-January, NDOW led the aerial reseeding effort with a flying services contractor while federal employees, including USFS employees, are on furlough.

“Especially with the government shutdown, we’re actually facilitating the entire seeding ourselves,” said Caleb McAdoo, NDOW eastern region habitat supervisor. “Even in their absence, we are making this happen.”

Nevada’s funding is limited, however, because the state’s severe 2018 fire season puts pressure on resources and budgets. For the burned area in Lamoille Canyon, the state has the budget to reseed only 25 percent of the affected land at this time.

Yet private funds are helping fill in the gap. Donations, which NDOW can match three-to-one with grants, allow the department to maximize funds and work efficiently, McAdoo said.

A group of local business and organizations — including High Desert Imaging, Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group and Friends of the Ruby Mountains — combined forces with the goal of raising $500,000 for the restoration and rehabilitation of the burn area.

High Desert Imaging kicked off the drive by donating $10,000.

“This is where we live, and this is where our future generations are going to grow up,” said Steve Mims of High Desert Imaging. “We have to leave it better than we found it.”

The canyon might not in this generation look like residents remember it before the fire, but efforts like reseeding usher the natural process along through “facilitated succession,” McAdoo said. “This is the first stage.”


Crime-and-courts
top story
Spring Creek man arrested for assault with deadly weapon

ELKO – A Spring Creek man is accused of stabbing two people and forcing one of them to hide in a bathroom while Elko County Sheriff’s deputies investigated a report of a domestic disturbance.

Deputies were called to 720 Spring Valley Parkway Friday evening but were told by the people at the residence that “everything was alright,” the sheriff’s office reported.

About two hours later, deputies were told that one man from the residence was in the emergency room at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital with stab wounds.

“The victim stated he was told to go into the bathroom at the residence when deputies were at the residence on the prior call,” and that Rufus G. Polanco had threatened bodily harm to a female at the residence if he came out, the sheriff’s office reported.

The man in the hospital said he and the female had been stabbed “several times” after Polanco began drinking heavily and using prescription drugs.

Polanco, 35, was arrested on two counts of battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of battery, two counts of coercion, battery to commit mayhem, robbery or grand larceny, and false imprisonment with a deadly weapon.

He is being held at Elko County Jail on $232,280 bail and on a parole and probation hold.

According to Elko Daily Free Press files, Polanco was also arrested in February of 2015 for allegedly stabbing his girlfriend in the temple with a metal thermometer.


Crime-and-courts
DA clears Reno school officer in wounding of student in 2016

RENO (AP) — The top prosecutor in Reno has cleared a campus police officer in the shooting of a teenager who slashed one student and waved knives at others in a high school courtyard in December 2016.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks issued a report Tuesday finding that Officer Cory Coombes was justified in wounding then-14-year-old Logan Clark during the incident at Hug High School.

Clark was arrested on an unrelated firearm charge, but he was sent to a treatment center in Texas after a psychological evaluation determined he wasn’t competent for trial.

Hicks says more than 100 witnesses were interviewed, and investigators viewed cellphone video as part of his prosecutorial review.

He says Coombes encountered a “grim situation” with people in danger and wounded Clark with one gunshot after Clark refused multiple commands to drop the knives.