December 13, 2006 in City

FBI team searches river for evidence

The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photo

An FBI dive team searches the Spokane River around Seven Mile Bridge on Tuesday with assistance from the Spokane County Water Rescue Team.
(Full-size photo)

The FBI’s specially trained underwater evidence recovery team began searching a section of the Spokane River on Tuesday, apparently looking for a firearm.

The 12-member Underwater Search and Evidence Recovery Team, or U-SERT, was searching the bottom of the river on both sides of the Seven Mile Bridge, northwest of the city, said FBI supervisor Frank Harrill.

He wouldn’t comment on the specific case or what led the FBI to mobilize the dive team for the search, expected to last through today and possibly into Thursday.

The FBI has jurisdiction over and investigates crimes that occurr on U.S. government property and Indian reservations.

Some items had been recovered at midday Tuesday, but the FBI official declined to elaborate, saying the search would continue.

The FBI dive team was receiving ground assistance from FBI agents from Spokane and Seattle, and logistical support from the Spokane County Water Rescue Team, composed of volunteers and a sheriff’s deputy coordinator.

Councilman took commissioner’s sign

Spokane City Councilman Brad Stark admitted Tuesday that it was he who stole the vinyl sign from County Commissioner Mark Richard’s car.

The sign is one of two that Richard placed on his car with his name and contact information on them. Both, he said, cost him $100.

Referencing a story line from the movie, “Amelie,” Stark took pictures of the sign in front of different locations and e-mailed them to Richard without identifying himself. Stark said he plans to present the sign to Richard on Thursday at a Spokane Transit Authority board meeting along with gifts from most of the sites where he photographed the sign.

Stark, who confessed to Richard in a voice mail Tuesday, said he took the sign as a prank and meant no harm to Richard.

“It was more of a friendly jest,” Stark said.

Richard said he began to get concerned about the e-mails after he received one on Thursday of the sign outside his home at night. The commissioner was out of town when he got the message, but his family was home.

“It was at that point that it crossed the line,” Richard said. “Any father would have the same reaction.”

Richard said he sent a message to the sender threatening to file a police report unless he got his sign back soon. Stark said the picture was taken at 4:30 p.m.

After getting the call from Stark, Richard said he would wait to sit down and talk with Stark before making judgment.

“I’m trying to be a statesman about it and don’t want to get into a political and public exchange,” Richard said.

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