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Pend Oreille Man Killed; Two Arrested Homeowner Murdered After Interrupting Burglars

A Pend Oreille County man was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon by burglars he discovered in his back yard.

Two hours later, authorities arrested two suspects near Spokane.

Jason V. Kukrall, 21, and a 17-year-old, both of Elk, were being held at the Spokane County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, authorities said. They refused to identify the juvenile.

Steve Roscoe, 43, and his wife, Debbie, pulled up to their home on heavily wooded Fertile Valley Road about 2:50 p.m., saw damage to their front door and realized that their home had been broken into, said Doug Malby, Pend Oreille County sheriff.

When the couple heard a sound in the back yard, Roscoe rushed behind the house. His wife heard two gunshots and saw two men walk to a car parked in front of the home.

She found her mortally wounded husband in the back yard.

“I’m certain that whatever happened was not provoked,” said the Rev. Chuck Rainwater of the Country Church of the Open Bible in Elk, where Roscoe was a church officer. “If they would have said, ‘We’re burglarizing your home,’ he would have stepped back.”

Debbie Roscoe called 911 and a search ended with the arrest of the two men north of Spokane.

Sgt. Jim Keightly of the Washington State Patrol stopped the suspects’ station wagon shortly before 5 p.m. at Hastings Road and U.S. Highway 395.

The car matched a description of the suspects’ vehicle as given by the victim’s wife, said WSP Sgt. Chris Powell.

Investigators from the WSP, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department and the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Department helped secure the car and take the suspects into custody.

They found two guns under the seat and a bag of coins believed to have been taken from the Roscoe house, officials said.

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies helped Pend Oreille County detectives at the victim’s house, taking fingerprints and gathering other evidence into the night.

Cars lined the road in front of the Roscoes’ rural home for hours after the shooting.

The home is surrounded by tall pine trees. The Roscoes kept a steer in a meadow behind the house.

Their friends, including members of their church, tried to console the grieving family.

Some people surrounded a car in which Debbie Roscoe sat crying. The dead man’s daughter-in-law, Tina Roscoe, was consoled by her mother as she cried in another car.

Rainwater drove Debbie Roscoe to her son’s Spokane apartment hours after the shooting.

“She’s just naturally taking it very hard,” Rainwater said.

Brad Roscoe, 19, said his mother was resting late Wednesday at his apartment.

The son, who is studying at Spokane Community College to become a police officer, said he wished he could have helped gather evidence at the scene where his father was shot.

“He was the best dad and a great Christian leader in the community and his church and his family. You couldn’t ask for a better father,” Roscoe said. “He would have been willing to give anything to those guys.”

The couple discovered the burglary after spending the day in Spokane getting their car fixed and shopping, Rainwater said.

Steve Roscoe was an active church member, Rainwater said. He helped the church get its first computer, led Bible studies for adults and children and worked as a church officer handling business affairs on a volunteer basis.

“He was always in attendance, very steady, a strong pillar in the church,” Rainwater said. “People just went to him like a magnet.”

“It’s just completely shocked us to see something like this happen,” said Al Hotchkiss, 36, an Elk resident who learned of the shooting from fellow church members.

In recent months, Debbie Roscoe had become fearful, especially after a man banged on one of her doors one day, said Darlene Landahl, a family friend.

Landahl had given her a Chihuahua so she would feel less fearful about being alone.

Landahl’s husband, Bruce, worked with Steve Roscoe at Ponderay Newsprint in Usk, Wash.

A man who lives six miles down the road from the Roscoe home said he’d heard of break-ins recently in the area.

“Our neighbors were just broken into,” Jim Skjold said.

Skjold stopped at the scene in front of the Roscoe home, fearing that his wife had gotten into an accident.

“I moved here from Spokane to get away from things like this,” he said.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Gita Sitaramiah Staff writer Staff writer Bonnie Harris contributed to this report.

Tags: burglary

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