Plea deal reached in gun incident near Port Angeles

Charges make Toka John Lavacca eligible for residential drug treatment

Toka John Lavacca

Toka John Lavacca

PORT ANGELES — Toka John Lavacca, whose flight from arrest following an alleged incident involving a gun led to a ban on camping in an area at the Morse Creek curve, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that make him eligible for residential drug treatment.

Lavacca, 40, pulled a small-caliber, chrome-colored pistol from his waistband and pointed it at two homeowners the afternoon of July 9, according to the probable cause statement.

He had been charged with two counts each of second-degree assault-deadly weapon and harassment-threats to kill and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Lavacca pleaded guilty Tuesday in Clallam County Superior Court to two counts of third-degree assault-criminal negligence-deadly weapon, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a deadly weapon and one count of harassment-threats to kill. The maximum penalty on each charge is five years and a $10,000 fine.

The standard sentence range for Lavacca of 12 months and one day imprisonment to 16 months on the amended information makes him eligible for the state Department of Corrections’ residential Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA) program. Offenders with violent offenses and sex offenses are not eligible.

Factors in determining eligibility for the sentencing range include aspects such as “a function of the crime” and a person’s criminal history, Judge Brent Basden told Lavacca Tuesday.

Lavacca will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Oct. 31 following a DOSA evaluation that he must follow, “particularly those related to chemical dependency,” Basden said.

According to the plea agreement, the residential treatment program would last three to six months. If Lavacca is sentenced to prison, the term would be one-half of the midpoint of the standard range or 12 months, whichever is greater.

The recommendation agreed to by Stan Myers, representing Lavacca, and the county prosecuting attorney’s office includes 24 months of community custody and no contact with the victims.

The confrontation between Lavacca and the couple allegedly took place on a driveway that dead-ends at the homeowners’ house in the 2800 block of East Myrtle Street east of Port Angeles, according to the probable cause statement.

The male homeowner said Lavacca was arguing with a woman in the homeowner’s driveway when the homeowner told them it was a private road and that it dead ends, according to the statement.

Lavacca apologized to the man, said “it was a mistake,” and began walking back to Myrtle when the homeowner said the woman Lavacca was with gave him “the most ‘evilest smirk’ as they walked away.”

The man said he asked Lavacca’s companion, “What the [expletive deleted] are you looking at?” at which point Lavacca “turned around and pointed this silver pistol at me sideways,” the homeowner said, “right at my head.”

The man’s wife drove up, and Lavacca pointed the gun at her, the husband said, before Lavacca ran away. The woman confirmed her husband’s account of Lavacca pointing the pistol at them, according to court records.

Following the confrontation, Lavacca fled about 1 mile east to a homeless encampment on a 130-acre state Department of Fish & Wildlife urban wildlife preserve off the sweeping Morse Creek curve east of the city.

Authorities, who had received tips that Lavacca frequented the area, found him at a campsite about 200 yards from a communal dump site, his full backpack nearby.

Lavacca ran away about 100 yards before he was arrested, court records said.

He insisted to authorities that he had a butane lighter in his hand while arguing with the homeowner.

The homeowners “were very adamant that in fact it was a gun in his hand,” county sheriff’s Sgt. John Keegan said in a July 14 Peninsula Daily News interview.

A weapon was never found.

Fish & Wildlife and county sheriff’s department personnel cleared the area of illegal campers in August. Eight illegal residential campsites were removed, and all camping was banned where before, temporary camping had been allowed.

Fish & Wildlife Sgt. Kit Rosenberger said Tuesday he’s unaware of any complaints of illegal camping in the area since August.

“We did some mowing in the area to clean it up a bit,” Rosenberger said.

“People are aware it’s a Fish and Wildlife access and urban wildlife habitat area.”


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at