Prosecutor claims Auburn man used false emergency call to lure officers from scene of intended burglary

First, a falsely reported shooting would lure Auburn police away from the Valley Towing yard where police were storing the Cadillac Escalade that Charlie Ponce-Rodriguez’s girlfriend had been driving two days before when they seized it as part of an ongoing investigation.

Then, police say, Ponce-Rodriguez would sneak into the yard, retrieve the drugs and weapons inside that car and be off without detection.

But police were not so easily duped.

On April 12, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged 29 year-old Ponce-Rodriguez of Auburn with one count of second-degree burglary.

Deputy Prosecutor Michael Fulce asked the court to set bail at $20,000.

“The defendant has had 25 warrants issued since 2011, indicating that if released, he would not appear for future court hearings,” Fulce told the bail court. “The defendant has also shown a likeliness of interfering with the administration of justice based on the elaborate plan to throw off law enforcement in this case and respond to the scene of a false emergency.”

Here is what happened, summarized from the Auburn Police Department’s Certification for Determination of Probable Cause.

At 6:09 a.m. April 8, according to documents and court records, a female called 911 to report a man shooting at a woman near the Green River College campus on Lea Hill. When officers got there, however, they found no evidence of a shooting that morning, and campus security had no records of any.

According to documents, police then discovered the call had not come from the college area at all, but from the 2700 block of M Street Southeast, and from the phone number associated with the girlfriend at the center of that other ongoing investigation. Also, when police called the phone number associated with the 911 call, according to police, they discovered that the girlfriend had left her name on the voicemail recording.

According to documents, police suspicions were sharpened because they knew they had received many calls over the previous two days asking when that particular vehicle would be released.

At 6:22 a.m., 11 minutes after the 911 call, according to documents, an Auburn Police Department officer who happened to be near Valley Towing on A Street Southeast heard on the radio that the tow yard had just notified the APD that its video surveillance cameras had recorded a man in the yard about the time the officer saw a man carrying two bags outside of the fenced area near the front gate.

Because the gate was locked and the officer had not seen that man walking along the sidewalk in either direction, according to documents, his sudden appearance “as if out of nowhere” led the officer to conclude the man must have come from the locked and fenced tow yard.

According to the report, police would later find a hole in the fence at the point where the man had appeared.

At first, according to documents, Ponce-Rodriguez acted clueless to the incident and why he was being detained. Later, he claimed he had entered the tow yard to prowl cars because he was down on his luck, hadn’t eaten in four days and disliked stealing from stores. He also denied he knew the woman associated with that car and did not know who owned it.

When police notified Ponce-Rodriguez that the tow yard surveillance video showed him entering the yard and heading directly to the Cadillac and then emerging from it a short time later with several bags of items, he allegedly conceded that he’d gone to the yard with the single purpose of retrieving the items for his girlfriend, according to documents.

According to court records, Ponce-Rodriguez is the subject of two active warrants for having failed to appear in King County Superior Court in July 2021 on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and for taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission.

According to records, Ponce-Rodriquez has five other active warrants out for his arrest: one from Chelan County District Court for failing to appear, a second from Fife Municipal Court, a third from the City of Pacific Court, a fourth from Issaquah Municipal Court and the fifth from Thurston County District Court, in total summing to $7,550.

The court records say nothing at this point about the girlfriend’s legal status with respect to this case.