Nespelem man sentenced to seven years in AR-15 assault case

— A local man was sentenced to a total seven years in prison yesterday for four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.

Vernon Mason Saulque, 32, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson in Spokane. The overall sentence included four, 21-month terms, to be served consecutively, said Michael C. Ormsby, the U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. Following prison, Saulque will also be supervised by the court for three years.

The sentencing comes more than three months after Saulque pleaded guilty to the charges during a hearing May 21, court records show.

Court records show Saulque was arrested July 13, 2013, after confronting four individuals with an AR-15 semi-automatic military-style rifle.

The arrest followed a reported dispute at a home on the Colville Indian Reservation, court records show, noting Saulque had been asked to leave the home by one of the victims.

Saulque complied, court records show, noting that the victims also left the home a few minutes later and drove away.

The names of the victims were not released.

About a block from the home, Saulque was waiting with the assault-rifle and fired 16 rounds, hitting the car eight times, court records show.

“Fortunately, nobody was struck,”Ormsby said, adding Saulque then fled in his truck, but was apprehended by tribal police a short time later.

“Firearm violence is a significant issue in this country and we are very appreciative of the hard work and complete investigation done by the Colville Tribal Police and the FBI,” Ormsby said. “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is, and will continue to be, committed to aggressively prosecuting violent crimes, especially those committed with firearms that occur within federal jurisdiction, including the Indian reservations in the District.”

The reservation falls under federal jurisdiction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rudy J. Verschoor prosecuted the case.

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