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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for July 2013

Fire extinguisher used in self-defense, burglary suspect says

A man trying to break into a West Central apartment during a domestic dispute Tuesday morning says he used a fire extinguisher to protect himself from getting shot.

Alexander VanZandt, 23, is one of three suspects in an early-morning burglary that has prompted a suspect search by Spokane Police. Investigators say VanZandt, Jory Vallee, 24, and one other man were attempting to break in to an apartment where Vallee's ex-girlfriend was hiding from him just before 8 a.m. in the 1400 block of West Maxwell. Vallee had been thrown out of the apartment about 6 hours before, according to court documents, saying he'd return to attack those inside the apartment.

While the three men were trying to enter the apartment, a gun was fired into the door jamb. Court documents do not identify the shooter. But VanZandt said he grabbed a fire extinguisher and “sprayed into the apartment so he wouldn't be shot.”

Four people, including the ex-girlfriend, were listed in the apartment at the time.

Officers responding to a phone call from within the apartment watched as VanZandt and Vallee ran from the backdoor of the apartment complex. The two were arrested about a block from the apartment after a foot chase.

A third suspect, described as a Native American male wearing a black T-shirt, gray shorts and a large black backpack in a news release from police, remains at large. Those with information on his whereabouts are asked to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.

VanZandt and Vallee appeared in Spokane Superior Court on charges of first-degree burglary Wednesday afternoon. 

Woman banned from Walmart arrested at Walmart

Charnay Robinson may have taken one too many trips to the superstore.

Robinson, 27, was arrested Monday at the Walmart on East Sprague after police say she used a Visa credit card that had been reported stolen this weekend. Account records showed 13 charges totaling more than $750 on the card between Saturday and Monday, with seven of them occurring at the Walmart, mostly for prepaid debit cards that can be used anywhere. Cameras caught Robinson making those purchases Sunday.

According to court documents, Robinson was banned from Walmart stores nationwide in May. It was not clear in the records what caused that ban.

Police picked up Robinson after she returned to the Walmart on Monday. She was found at the customer service desk trying “to get help with a Walmart gift card that was not working,” according to court documents.

Robinson appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Tuesday, facing seven charges of burglary and one theft charge. Her bail was set at $2,050. Police note in court records more charges are likely to be filed.

Port-a-potty burns in northeast Spokane

Several engines responded to a structure fire shortly after 6 p.m. at Chief Garry Park in northeast Spokane.

That structure was a port-a-potty.

Firefighters doused the blaze in the 2500 block of East Mission Avenue shortly after it started. Witnesses reported seeing heavy smoke in the area, and the pungent fumes of outhouse aftermath wafted in the breeze.

A young boy who was nearby, clothed only in swim trunks, said several such fires have occurred in the neighborhood recently. Another neighbor, a man whose air conditioner was on the fritz and who came to the park to check out the engines, said some garages went up a couple years ago around the same time.

All that remained of the portable toilet Saturday evening was the charred roof near a softball field. Children were playing on an adjacent field when the final engine left the scene around 6:30 p.m.

Clay Starbuck’s children respond to no-contact order

Clay Starbuck's children say a no-contact order imposed by Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt is an “attempt by the state to tear apart our family.”

Blake Starbuck, 19, issued a statement Friday saying they will fight the order that stops convicted murderer Clay Starbuck from contacting his three minor children until he has a mental health evaluation. Starbuck may contact his oldest children, Blake and Austin, 22.

Starbuck was convicted of aggravated first-degree murder and sexually violating human remains in connection with the December 2011 slaying of his wife, 42-year-old Chanin Starbuck. In an unexpected twist during Starbuck's sentencing, prosecutor Larry Steinmetz asked Sypolt to enforce a no-contact order.

Starbuck will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Documents:

Sheriff’s deputy honored for airborne service

A Spokane County Deputy was honored nationally for helping safely guide deputies on two high speed chases last year.

Tactical Flight Officer Jeff Thurman was named the Tactical Flight Officer of the Year award at the last week’s Airborne Law Enforcement Association conference in Orlando, according to a news release.

Coeur d’Alene police need help finding an armed robbery suspect

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Coeur d'Alene police released security camera video of a man who robbed an espresso stand in Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday and Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for information leading to his arrest.

At about 5:30 p.m., a man pointed a gun and demanded money from a clerk working at the Lean Bean at 1820 Northwest Blvd., according to a news release.

The suspect fled on foot toward the 1000 block of Emma Avenue, the release said. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt and shoes with red laces.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Coeur d’Alene Police Department at 208-769-2320 or Crime Stoppers at 208-667-2111 or 1-800-222-TIPS.

Do you know this woman? Medical examiners need help identifying her next of kin.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the identity of the second individual killed in a mobile home fire early Monday morning, but need help contacting her family.

Robert “Amanda” Blanchard, 41, was found dead in the mobile home she lived in with her partner, Keith M. Barber, 50, according to a news release. The home at 2311 W 16th Ave. burned down shortly after midnight Monday. A cause of death has not been released for either victim.

Police are investigating her death as a murder suicide.

Blanchard was a transgender man living as a woman, police said. Investigators do not believe her identity was a factor in the murder-suicide.

Medical examiners have been unable to locate Blanchard’s relatives. Anyone with information about her next of kin is asked to call the medical examiner at 509-477-2296.

Police log gems: Pullman police help baby bird

Pullman police responded to a call of a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest Tuesday at about 11:20 a.m. on the 2500 block of NW Short Drive.

Police responded and placed the bird back into the nest, according to police logs.

Man threatens girlfriend, neighbors with sword

Stephan B. Kirk, 55, is accused of breaking in to a neighbor's apartment in a building near Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Sunday and lying in wait for his girlfriend with a 3-foot metal sword.

Witnesses say Kirk entered the apartment around 11 p.m. Sunday saying he was going to “chop someone's head off” and that he “meant business,” according to court documents. The girlfriend fled the apartment building after Kirk became verbally abusive, she told officers.

Kirk was arrested Monday morning. He told officers he'd been invited in to the neighboring apartment and that he didn't hurt anyone. Kirk was charged with first-degree burglary and harassment in Spokane Superior Court on Tuesday. His bond was set at $10,000.

Quarles faced discipline twice before

The Spokane Police officer, who was suspended this week for two months after associating with a woman tied to prostitution, drugs and burglary, had been disciplined by the department twice before the latest incident.

Police Chief Frank Straub suspended Officer Darrell Quarles on Monday for 60 days without pay after an internal investigation determined that he not only associated with the woman but also violated department policy by searching internal records to check on the status of her criminal investigation.

The Spokesman-Review also asked police spokeswoman Monique Cotton on Monday whether Quarles had received any prior commendations or discipline. Cotton listed the life saving award that Quarles earned in 2010 by dragging a shooting victim to safety, but she said she did not have access to the discipline records.

Cotton followed up today said that Quarles has been the subject of three complaints that have been founded, with the most recent on resulting in the 60-day suspension.

The first complaint was filed in 2009 when someone complained that Quarles used profanity during an interaction. “He was given counseling by his sergeant and then apologized” to the person and family of person who made the complaint, Cotton said.

Then last October, Quarles was disciplined for failing “to respond with actions consistent with policy and procedure” when he responded to a disturbance call at a restaurant.

Quarles apparently responded to the call and “did not wait for backup, did not properly advise a citizen that he or she was under arrest and then wrote an inadequate report,” Cotton said. “He was given a letter of reprimand following the incident.”

In the most recent case, Quarles – who made $82,519 in pay and overtime last year – Cotton said Quarles was having an “off-duty, interpersonal relationship” with the woman. “He did not pay for her services,” Cotton said. “She did not commit a crime to his knowledge while they were together. But he knew of past incidents.”

In addition to his life saving award from 2010, Quarles has received three unsolicited letters from residents complimenting him on his work.

In March 2009, Quarles responded to a resident suffering a mental crisis and a woman credited Quarles’ actions for saving the person’s life.

In April 2009, Quarles also received a letter saying he was “extremely professional” in dealing with another tense situation with a mentally-ill person.

And finally, in August of 2010 Quarles received an e-mail from a woman who thanked Quarles for helping convince her son, who had mental and chemical dependency issues, to return back to the hospital.

 

Spokane police officer suspended for ties to woman

A Spokane police officer has been suspended for two months without pay after the department determined he had been associating with a woman engaging in prostitution, drugs and burglary.

Police Chief Frank Straub issued a “last-chance agreement” to Officer Darrell Quarles, according to a news release Monday.

“It is my obligation to hold all employees, police officers and civilians to the highest ethical and professional standards” Straub said. “Unethical and unprofessional conduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Check out Tom Clouse's full story here.

Sacred Heart drug theft amount ‘incredible’

For almost four years, hundreds of thousands of powerful, highly controlled prescription narcotics disappeared from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s outpatient pharmacy and no one noticed. Between January and March alone, 745 hydrocodone pills were stolen each day, a police report says.

Three months ago, hospital officials asked Spokane police to investigate, and the magnitude of the theft became apparent.

Police say pharmacy technician Paul Martsin, 25, is suspected of stealing 261,756 hydrocodone pills since December 2009, with a street value exceeding $1 million.

Check out the full story here. (Jody Lawrence-Turner/The Spokesman-Review)

Woman posing as prostitute, one man arrested in robbery

A woman posing as a prostitute and one man were arrested in connection to an armed robbery Friday morning, police say.

Tenisha M. Herrell, 25, arranged to meet with the male victim on backpage.com, an online classifieds site frequently used by prostitutes and escorts, according to a Spokane police news release. Herrell, who went by the name of “Melanie” on the site, agreed to meet him early Friday morning near Hill ‘n’ Dale Rotary Park near Colton and Jay Street, the release said.

See the original story here.

Police continue search for Grant County shooting suspect

Multiple law enforcement agencies continue their search for a shooting suspect who shot a man multiple times in the stomach Friday morning.

Arnoldo Cazares Mendoza, 20, fled a blueberry orchard in a pickup truck after a shooting that occurred around 7:30 this morning, Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kyle Foreman said. Mendoza’s relationship to the victim is unknown. Multiple field workers witnessed the shooting, Foreman said.

Anyone with information on Mendoza's wherabouts is asked to call 911.

Check out the original story by The Spokesman-Review's Kip Hill here.

Sheriff’s office needs help identifying potential suspect in burglary

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office needs help identifying a potential suspect in a residential burglary.

On Sunday, the sheriff’s office received a report of a residential burglary on West Rockwell Avenue, according to a press release. The victim reported credit cards and other items were stolen.

A potential suspect used one of the credit cards at the Walmart on 5025 E. Sprague Ave. in Spokane Valley to purchase a flat screen television on Tuesday, according the release.

Photos were taken from parking loc surveillance footage. Anyone with information about the incident or who can help identify the suspect is asked to call Deputy Scott Streltzoff at 509-241-5485.

Male victim dies after Chattaroy mobile home explosion

One man died early Friday morning after suffering severe burns from a mobile home explosion in Chattaroy, Wash., according to Harborview Medical Center.

Michael Asselin, 51, and his wife, 57, were both badly burned when the mobile home Asselin lived in exploded Wednesday afternoon.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fire as a domestic violence situation. An investigator at the scene Thursday said it may have been an attempted homicide or a high-level assault.

The female victim remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Harborview.

Related Coverage:

Official: Chattaroy fire suspicious

Chattaroy explosion may have been intentionally caused

Two severely burned in Chattaroy mobile home explosion

Police arrest man for DUI after finding him eating a taco

Ronald R. Hebert was hungry the night he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Hebert allegedly hit a car in the parking lot of a Spokane Valley Safeway at 10 p.m. on July 11, according to an affidavit. When police tracked down his car, they found him parked on a landscaped median, eating a taco. His speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot.

The front end of Hebert's car was badly damaged, according to the affidavit.

When asked what he was doing, Hebert said he was out to buy a hamburger, according to the affidavit.

Hebert told the officer he’d had four or five beers, according to the affidavit.

Officers respond to dozens of fireworks calls

Spokane Police responded to 141 fireworks calls on the Fourth of July, according to the Spokane police log.

The fireworks calls spiked after 9 p.m., though officers responded to calls throughout the day. There were 25 calls after 9 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Police also responded to ten calls of driving under the influence Thursday.

Ill-pointed firework leads to house fire

In case you missed this chart and this post, fireworks are banned in much of the Inland Northwest.

Some people shooting them off in the park at Broadway Avenue and Chestnut Street apparently didn't get the memo.

The suspects shot an ill-pointed Roman candle from the park to a house across the street, said Lisa Jones, the city's fire marshal. The firework hit a bush in the front yard, which was engulfed in flames. By the time firefighters arrived, the flames had spread to the front porch and into the house.

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