Smoke, and not a self-inflicted gunshot wound, killed Richard Ross during a fiery standoff in the Spokane Valley in which he shot his brother and sister, relatives said Saturday.
Becky Toombs, Ross’ sister, said the Spokane County coroner’s office told her family Ross died of smoke inhalation Thursday, contrary to speculation that Ross shot himself.
“I’m very glad (Ross didn’t shoot himself). That’s even more violence,” Toombs said Saturday.
Barbara Janosky, who was seriously injured during the shooting, remained in critical condition at Deaconess Medical Center on Saturday after undergoing surgery to stop internal bleeding, but relatives say she is improving.
“From what we saw Thursday night, she was like a corpse,” Toombs said. “Now, she is looking more like herself. She’s alert at times and she recognizes her kids.”
Doctors told Toombs they hope to get Janosky off a respirator and out of intensive care as early as Wednesday.
A bullet, which doctors have not yet removed, pierced Janosky’s hip and shattered her pelvis. Her left leg is also in traction, the result of a gunshot wound to her thigh.
“We figure she could very, very likely be crippled for the rest of her life,” Toombs said.
Ross also shot and killed his 37-year-old brother, Bob Ross, before holding sheriff’s deputies and firefighters at bay while his family’s 87-year-old home at 801 N. University in the Valley burned around him on Thursday afternoon.
Witnesses reported hearing two gunshots after Ross backed away from a second-floor window. They never saw him again.
“I think he probably laid down on his bed to think,” Toombs said. “He made up his mind though. And when Richard makes up his mind, that’s it.”
Bob Ross retired from the Air Force’s communications squadron in July after a 17-year career. He was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base for two years beginning in 1991 before retiring as master sergeant in Mountain Home, Idaho.
Richard Ross opened fire as Bob Ross and Janosky were taking their 74-year-old mother to an appointment with an attorney to draw up a rental agreement. Ruth Ross, who suffered minor injuries from a fall during the attack, wanted Richard Ross, 46, to pay rent to live in the house.
The money was supposed to help offset the cost of an apartment for Ruth Ross at the Sullivan Gables complex, which Janosky manages.
“Instead of getting in a fight later, they wanted to make sure he didn’t think he was getting cheated,” said Larry Toombs, Becky’s husband.
Richard Ross was upset his mother was being moved, but refused to discuss the plan, Becky Toombs said. Her brother had trouble discussing his feelings with friends and family, she added.
“If people could have talked to him we could have worked things out,” she said.
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