Reward offered following Wilkeson shooting

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By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

A shot rang out about 5 a.m. Easter Sunday, whizzed directly over a sleeping family and left a small puncture hole in the wall of their Wilkeson home.

A span of perhaps a dozen inches kept a senseless act of random violence from becoming a drive-by shooting.

The unsolved crime was the most dangerous element of a shooting spree that left a handful of residents and merchants rattled and had law enforcement authorities springing into action.

In short order on the morning of March 23, bullets hit four houses, two businesses and two automobiles.

While the small foothills community might boast a rough-and-tumble heritage, all agree there's certainly no room for such modern-day gunplay. A Buckley police officer was on the scene within five minutes of the first 911 call and Police Chief Jim Arsanto quickly authorized overtime pay for three other officers.

While physical evidence was left behind and has been gathered, no arrests have been made. The investigation continues, however.

Wilkeson townsfolk have not been sitting idle. They have pooled their resources and are offering a $3,100 reward to anyone providing information that leads to the conviction of the shooter. The town contributed $1,000 to the kitty, The Wilkeson Eagles chipped in $500, Town Councilman Jim Walker added $500 and the owners of the Wilkeson Saloon put in another $500; private citizens put up the rest. Walker and his wife were victims of the random shooter.

Perhaps the most rattled by the incident were Rajko Tolic and his wife, Pam. While their home across from historic Wilkeson Elementary School is being remodeled, they are sleeping in the front room of their Railroad Street home, as is their 5-year-old daughter.

Pam Tolic was awakened by a noise she believed to be a back door slammed shut by the wind. While searching for the source of the noise that disturbed their slumber, her husband discovered a pencil-sized hole through their double-pane front window. Later, they noticed a corresponding hole in a wall about a dozen feet away. Running a line from one hole to the other Friday morning, they showed a visitor how close the shot had come to hitting their daughter, who was sleeping closest to the window.

Also stopping by Friday morning were Walker and his wife, who live several blocks from Tolic on Church Street, the town's main thoroughfare.

The Walkers were unlucky enough to have one shot do triple damage. A shot passed through the rear, driver's side window of their black sport utility vehicle, shattered the passenger side window and then lodged in the wall of their home.

Also targeted were two other homes, another vehicle and two businesses.

Arsanto said he had heard rumors that similar incidents occurred about the same time outside Wilkeson, in unincorporated Pierce County. As of Monday morning, Arsanto hadn't received confirmation and a call to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office had not been returned.

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