Spokane police arrested a convicted felon they say is a gang member Thursday night in an investigation that’s also linked to a Spokane Valley shooting last week.
Officers arrested 29-year-old Gary Lynn Mason, of 3010 E. Fairview, during a traffic stop about 7:30 p.m. Thursday at U.S. Highway 395 and Fender Road. Inside the car, they found a 7.62 caliber SKS assault rifle, two loaded 30-round magazines, a 12-gauge shotgun and four shot shells, Deputy Chief Al Odenthal said.
Mason was convicted in 1999 of first-degree robbery, according to Superior Court records. He was ordered held Friday on a $50,000 bond for new charges of third-degree assault on a police officer and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
Still wanted is Nathan J. Dishneau, 24, the alleged shooter in last week’s incident.
The charges resulted from a Spokane Valley police investigation into the July 23 shooting at Thai Way Restaurant at Broadway and Fancher, spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan said.
That business was hosting a rap concert when an argument broke out at 11:45 p.m. between Dishneau and another 24-year-old man police did not identify. Police say Dishneau pulled a pistol and shot the victim in the head and back. The shooting victim was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released, Reagan said.
“There was a (Spokane Valley police officer) across the street at a traffic light, and people came pouring out” of the Thai Way Restaurant, Reagan said. “There were still a lot of people inside, and the deputy had a tough time sorting out what happened.”
As the officer was attempting to clear the bar and provide care to the shooting victim, Mason confronted the officer, Reagan said. Mason “shoved the officer backwards with his fist, resulting in the assault charge,” he said in a press release.
“Dishneau was identified as one of the people in the bar that night when the shooting occurred. Detectives got warrants for Mason’s and Dishneau’s arrest on Wednesday,” Reagan said.
Information about Mason and Dishneau, who is wanted on a warrant for attempted first-degree murder, went out to all federal, state, county and city law enforcement officers Thursday as part of daily crime intelligence fliers, Reagan said.
Odenthal said Spokane police officers spotted Mason on Thursday night riding in the back seat of a black Dodge Neon that contained two other men and a woman. Officers pulled the car over on U.S. 395 to serve the assault warrant against Mason. During that arrest, they found the guns, an amount of cash, a small amount of marijuana and a drug scale, Odenthal said.
Also in the Neon were 41-year-old Oscar Eduardo Navas and 24-year-old Taveus M. Brown. Both Navas and Brown are convicted felons and were both charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, police spokesman Dick Cottam said. The woman in the car was released.
In an unrelated case, city officers about 2 a.m. Friday arrested 26-year-old Colby C. Adams, who is affiliated with local gangs, Odenthal said. Adams was the passenger in a car stopped for a traffic violation and a .40-caliber handgun was found under his seat.
“The Spokane Police Department has been tracking what we would term an escalating trend in gang activity in the city,” Odenthal said. “It’s not at a crisis stage, but it’s something our community should be aware of.”
Summer is when local gangs typically recruit new members, he said. But investigators are finding an increase of reports indicating youths, ages 14 to 17, are arming themselves with guns.
“Our message to gang members is that we are not going to have this type of weaponry floating around without appropriate police attention,” he said.
Along with the weapons, officers have noticed a growing problem with gang graffiti, indicating that local gangs are trying to establish territories or their turf, Odenthal said.
“The territorial thing is new to us. It’s not new to the gang culture, but it’s new to us,” he said.
Officer Larry Saunders, who specializes in investigating gangs, said turf battles increase the potential for random violence or intimidation to residents who live near the gang members.
“It is the young, home-grown gang members who are, for the most part, staking out their turf,” Saunders said. The gang territories “mostly come in the form of parks or schoolyard areas where they hang out.”
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