Triple homicide reported in Mattawa, Wash.

AP News
Posted: Dec 15, 2009 2:46 PM

Three men were shot to death near the central Washington town of Mattawa, and it appears they were targeted and it wasn't a random act, authorities said Tuesday.

Deputies responded to a call of gunshots at 9:15 p.m. Monday at a house about two miles outside of Mattawa. One man was found dead at the scene. A second man died in an ambulance. The body of the third man was found lying on the road a couple of miles away, said Grant County Undersheriff John Turley.

"At this time we are not saying this is gang-related," he said. Officials believe the victims were targeted and this is not the work of a random killer or killers, Turley said.

Investigators have identified one of the victims as a local man but are not yet releasing his name, Turley said. The identities of the other victims are not yet known, he said.

Mattawa is about 40 miles east of Yakima, near the Columbia River. The small town's population is 98 percent Hispanic, and the area has been struggling for some time with a big influx of gangs and illegal narcotics trafficking.