Suspect identified in deadly Milton-Freewater restaurant robbery

By on Thursday, February 22nd, 2024 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

MILTON-FREEWATER – The Milton-Freewater Police Department has identified the suspect in Sunday’s deadly robbery of the Red Tea Garden Chinese Restaurant. Chief Joe Shurtz said his department, along with partner law enforcement agencies, are diligently working to apprehend Emerald Julia Pena, 39.

Shurtz said his department now has probable cause to arrest Pena on charges of first-degree robbery and second-degree manslaughter, both classified as Measure 11 crimes.

Family members have identified the victim as Shu Yi Wu, 56, the restaurant’s owner.

Currently, law enforcement knows Pena’s whereabouts and is working to take her into custody. Shurtz is appealing to anyone with information about Pena’s whereabout to contact their local law enforcement agency immediately. He warns the public should not attempt to contact Pena.

At 7:27 p.m. Sunday, MFPD officers responded to the restaurant that just occurred. When officers arrived, they located Wu who had been injured.

Officers learned Pena was in the bar of the establishment and allegedly took the change drawer from the cash register before leaving the business. Pena was confronted outside, then came back into the business.

Wu’s daughter, Sally Zhu, explained her mother was thrown to the ground during the robbery sustaining a severe head injury and was transported to Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla.

“She (Wu) went through a four-hour surgery to stop the bleeding,” Zhu said. “Unfortunately, she did not survive her traumatic injuries and passed away the following morning (Monday).”

Shurtz said MFPD and partner law enforcement agencies, are working to apprehend Pena and “deliver justice to the family affected by this senseless act.”

Photo of Emerald Julia Pena, suspect, via MFPD