Peaceful Valley residents weren’t the only ones awakened by gunshots in the middle of the night Feb. 26 – so was Spokane’s chief of police.
From her apartment on Riverside Avenue, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said she could hear the shots fired by off-duty Officer Jay Olsen as he chased Shonto Pete from downtown to the quiet neighborhood.
Olsen was eventually arrested on a felony charge of first-degree assault and two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment for firing at least four shots from his personal .40-caliber handgun at Pete. One bullet grazed Pete’s skull; another penetrated a Peaceful Valley home.
Now that the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office investigation has wrapped up and Olsen has been laid off, Kirkpatrick said she was able to meet with the Peaceful Valley neighborhood council Wednesday evening to address their concerns about the area.
“I was awakened by those shots that night myself,” Kirkpatrick told about 10 residents sitting in the shade of an oak tree in Glover Field.
After Kirkpatrick discussed the history of the Olsen investigation, she and the residents discussed other concerns in the neighborhood, such as speeders headed down Main Street and people sleeping in their cars overnight on the street.
Neighbors are becoming familiar with Officer Brenda Yates, who told the group she tries to keep campers from setting up shop along the river, a popular location for overnighting transients.
“I’ve worked really hard to keep the campers out,” she said. “But they will always be there.”
Yates dons a set of coveralls resembling a mechanic’s uniform and weaves her way along the riverbank, reminding campers that it’s against regulations to camp out on city property.
Neighborhood council co-chairwoman Barbara Morrissey said the meetings between Kirkpatrick and residents are a good start in helping law enforcement realize that Peaceful Valley residents have legitimate concerns and aren’t “a bunch of drugged-out, wasted hippies down here.”
Residents earlier were very upset about the Olsen shooting, Morrissey said, but tensions seemed to have eased.
“The fact that he was arrested cooled a lot of it down,” she said. “I think it was good for people to have a civil discussion with the chief.”