Traffic stop nets firearms charge

— A Utah man arrested two miles outside Outlook Tuesday on a firearms charge appeared in court yesterday.

Earl T. VanWinkle, 34, was arrested by the Washington State Patrol on Interstate 82, at about Milepost 61 on charges of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia.

His preliminary hearing in Yakima County Superior Court was yesterday. He will be arraigned April 13.

A trooper was stopped on the side of the road, conducting a traffic stop with his emergency lights fully activated. A semi truck passed him on the freeway, traveling in the lane closest to the shoulder, court documents state.

The truck driver, later identified as VanWinkle, allegedly failed to change lanes away from the trooper. The left lane was empty at the time, documents state.

The trooper cleared the traffic stop and caught up to the semi, observing the trailer traveling over the right fog line. The trooper stopped the truck for failure to move over and a lane travel violation, documents show.

After making contact with VanWinkle, the trooper was told the driver’s log book was not completed, according to court documents. VanWinkle provided information the trooper believed suspicious, court documents state.

“VanWinkle admitted to having a ‘pipe’ in the truck and a firearm,” the trooper said in court documents.

“He also admitted to being a convicted felon, which was confirmed,” the trooper said.

The trooper retrieved the pipe and firearm. The gun was a loaded .40 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol, documents show.

The truck was impounded.


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