Violence has been passed down in the Armstead family like a bad heirloom.
Two members of the longtime Spokane family were shot Tuesday in an early morning attack at a friend’s apartment.
Ronnie Armstead, a 23-year-old gang member, was killed. His uncle, Richard Armstead, 42, was critically wounded.
“This would give my mom a heart attack,” said Arthur Armstead, Richard’s brother and Ronnie’s uncle. “All … of her sons have been shot or stabbed except for me.”
In 1970, one of five Armstead brothers, Michael, was shot and killed in what police described as an ambush. Three other brothers later were wounded by gunshots.
“Ronnie’s dad (Ronald Sr.) was shot the first time,” said Arthur Armstead, 44. “Ten years ago, my oldest brother was shot through the mouth. Richard had never been shot before this.”
In the 1970s, Richard Armstead was convicted of second-degree robbery and grand larceny.
His nephew, Ronnie Armstead, had a long juvenile criminal career. He was convicted of second-degree burglary at 15, stealing a car at 16 and second-degree assault at 17.
In 1993, he was found guilty of attempted first-degree theft for stuffing a bottle of wine into his trench coat and threatening a security guard who tried to stop him from leaving a store.
He was sentenced to 37 days in jail and 240 hours of community service. He didn’t do his community service and didn’t pay his $210 fine.
Ronnie Armstead told corrections officers that he was having trouble finding a job because he was a gang member. At the time, he was working at Taco Time for $5 an hour.
Last April, Ronnie Armstead and three other people were arrested in a drug sting. According to court documents, a police informer had arranged for a crack cocaine buy on East Sprague.
While police watched nearby, Armstead and another man pulled up in a car. They were arrested with two plastic bags of crack, but delivery charges against Armstead were dropped later.
Arthur Armstead said hearing about his nephew’s death “felt like a blow to my gut.” He was supposed to have been with Ronnie Armstead at the time of the shooting but couldn’t find the right address, he said.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t make it there,” he said. “We’d all be dead. I’d be gone.”
Arthur Armstead barely missed being a shooting victim before, in 1970, when his brother Michael was shot in the stomach and head.
“I was supposed to be there with him, too,” Arthur Armstead said. “I was just late.”
In recent weeks, his nephew had talked about people being mad at him and wanting to “get him.” No one paid attention to him, though, Arthur Armstead said.
“You know how these kids are,” he said. “I didn’t think about it too much.”
He said he doesn’t know who Ronnie Armstead was talking about or why they were angry with him. He also denied his nephew was involved in a gang and said the shooting wasn’t drug-related.
He said the Armsteads have “a ton of family” in Spokane and many relatives are angry about the shooting.
“Some of our people know who did this, I’m sure, and they are not happy,” Arthur Armstead said.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Jess Walter Staff writer Staff writer Bonnie Harris contributed to this report.