A Walla Walla man was sentenced to 120 days in jail, minus credit for time served, Monday for striking a pedestrian and rival gang member with his car in April. 

Jon P. Saunders, 34, was arrested after he apparently struck Ronald H. Mitchell Jr., 30, of Walla Walla at 10:29 a.m. on April 27 at Palouse and Sumach streets, records stated. Mitchell was injured and evaluated by medics, but wasn’t taken to the hospital.

Police believed Saunders and Mitchell were rival gang members, records stated, and the two had been incarcerated together.

Saunders made a plea bargain with prosecutors to have his charge reduced from second-degree assault to reckless endangerment. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern said Monday that witnesses were “deliberately making themselves unavailable” to investigators and there were “difficulties due to the nature of the crime.” 

His sentence included 364 days in jail with 244 suspended as long as he complied with community custody rules, and credit for 58 days served; one year of probation; to-be-determined restitution; and $250 in fines and fees. 

Saunders, who was on probation when the crime occurred, said Monday he was paying fees on four other cases and owed about $10,000 

Saunders was driving his blue 1995 Pontiac Grand Am during the April collision. Police later spotted him and the car with a mark on the windshield that wasn’t there when an officer first saw the car, records stated.

A woman at the scene was yelling at Saunders, according to records, and told police Mitchell was in a nearby apartment. Police located Mitchell, who had apparent injuries. Neither he nor the woman wanted to talk much to police for fear of retaliation, records stated.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.

Recommended for you