© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

West Richland double-murder, kidnapping suspect shot at police, officials say

Police officers and others standing outside a suburban house.
Anna King
Northwest News Network
FBI, county and police officials wait for the all-clear to collect evidence at the home of Elias Huizar, 39, where his 17-year-old girlfriend, Angelica Santos, was found dead.

In West Richland, the pink dogwoods are in bloom but the sunny spring days have been tarnished by three dead in the community and several orphaned children.

Quiet neighborhoods are disturbed by police cars parked outside of an older home with a murder scene inside. Runners and neighbors pass by snapping pictures.

Monday afternoon, Elias Huizar, 39, apparently killed two women: his ex-wife, Amber Rodriguez, at a West Richland elementary school near a portable building just as school was releasing, and at his suburban home nearby, his 17-year-old girlfriend, Angelica Santos. Then, he kidnapped his 1-year-old son Roman Santos and drove south to Oregon.

Huizar was located by Oregon State Police Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 5. A car chase ensued with Huizar shooting back at officers near Eugene, Oregon, West Richland Police said during a press conference.

He ran off the road and crashed, spinning into the median. Investigators said Huizar turned the gun on himself and died by suicide.

“The child was removed from the vehicle and we are working with the appropriate agencies to reunite him with his family,” said Thomas Grego, West Richland’s chief of police. “I hope the conclusion of this manhunt may serve as a catalyst for healing for all in this dreadful event.”

A sign that reads "William R Riley Elementary School."
Anna King
Northwest News Network
A bunch of flowers Tuesday afternoon lay near the sign for William Wiley Elementary School in West Richland. Students returned to class on Wednesday morning with therapy dogs and counselors.

Charges and the children  

Huizar had pending charges of 2nd and 3rd degree rape of two children, including Santos when she was 15. The age of consent in Washington is 16, according to the Benton County Prosecutor's Office. The other rape was of a girl when she was 17; the prosecutor isn’t releasing her name. Huizar was charged with serving the girl alcohol and then having intercourse with her while she was incapacitated. Huizar was a former Yakima Police officer and also worked as a substitute teacher for the Richland School District until February of this year.

Eric Eisinger, the Benton County prosecuting attorney, said it's still unclear which woman was killed first on Monday:

A bike rack with one scooter in it. A blue toy is on the ground in front of the bike rack. A school is in the background.
Anna King
Northwest News Network
Children’s scooters, bikes and toys were left behind in the evacuation at William Wiley Elementary School Monday after a paraeducator was shot and killed by her ex-husband during dismissal Monday afternoon.

“We are still working on that,” Eisinger said. “So, in terms of a specific timeline in terms as to which victim was killed first I can’t provide additional information this morning. That is something that is being looked into.”

Eisinger also said the young child, Roman Santos, and two other children belonging to now-dead Rodriguez and Huizar, have all lost their mothers and father and would need some special care.

“CPS will obviously be making a placement for the child, for Roman, but you’re right to point out that this leaves the child without a father or mother and this is a child who is going to need support,” Eisinger said.

The prosecuting attorney confirmed Santos had a court protection order against Huizar at the time of her death. Now with the death of Huizar, these cases will be closed, Eisinger said.

Back to school

Wednesday is the first day back to school for William Wiley Elementary School students. Teachers opened their classes with a script provided by the district and several police and school district therapy dogs were at the school making the rounds.

“These are our most precious assets in our community, are our children. So, we want to make sure we’re doing everything to keep them safe,” said Shelley Redinger, superintendent with the Richland School District.

Copyright 2024 Northwest News Network

Anna King
Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.
Related Content