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Man in 70s bound, burglarized, police say

Thu., May 31, 2007

A masked gunman reportedly abducted an elderly man from his backyard Wednesday evening and forced him inside his suburban home, where he tied the victim’s wrists and ankles with duct tape before rummaging through the house.

The victim, whom neighbors at the Sunny Creek Residential Community described as being in his mid-70s, was able to break free after about 20 minutes and called police just after 6 p.m. He was unsure whether the assailant was still inside the house, Spokane police spokesman Cpl. Mike Carr said.

About a dozen patrol cars responded, including at least five K-9 units.

“These kinds of scenes are very rare,” Carr said. “We don’t get a lot of calls from senior citizens that they’re bound.”

Carr said the Police Department “threw a lot of officers” at the situation because it was so unusual.

For about half an hour, authorities on the assumption the invader was still inside 1131 W. Sunny Creek Circle kept shotguns and assault rifles aimed at the yellow- and green-trimmed house. At one point, they used a loudspeaker and demanded the person surrender.

After gaining access through the garage, officers searched the premises with a police dog, but the gunman had already left.

At 7:20 p.m., officers sent a K-9 unit on a sniff trail, but Carr said the dog never seemed to pick up a scent.

The gunman, whom Carr said the victim described as a stocky, 5-foot-10-inch white male wearing a sweater, was still at large late Wednesday. Police did not know whether the assailant stole anything.

“We don’t have any reason to believe that he is in the area,” Carr said.

Firefighters examined the victim, and he was deemed unhurt, though shaken up. After the incident, he talked with family members while leaning on a police cruiser, wearing only one sandal.

Kent Weaver, a neighbor who manages the residential community with his wife, Kathie, said the victim is a nice man who often walks his dog through the suburban area. The small dog was at the house at the time of the invasion and was unharmed.

The victim would be worried about his dog, Kathie Weaver said as she walked a nearby street, talking with other neighbors who had come outside.

“This is so bizarre,” she said. “Nothing like this happens down here. I mean, come on. We’re a nice, quiet gated community.”

The community of mostly elderly people has 91 single-floor houses with no basements for the gunman to hide in, Kathie Weaver said.

The neighborhood is surrounded by water features except for a small path and a driveway, which police blocked upon arrival.

Police swept the entire area. Carr said detectives would be working at the victim’s home for several hours Wednesday night.

“The house is sealed off as a crime scene, obviously,” Carr said.

Kent Weaver said the victim’s home was burglarized in November, though he wasn’t home at the time.


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