Local news

STA honors security officers

Pair nabbed man suspected in robbery

Two security officers at the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza in downtown Spokane chased down one of two armed-robbery suspects at the Plaza in February, tackling the youth to the ground and allegedly finding a loaded .22-caliber revolver in his waistband.

STA security officer Chris Stein and Securitas security officer Chris Hamilton were honored Thursday evening by the STA board for teaming up with Spokane police in taking the suspects off the streets.

The chase began at the Plaza the evening of Feb. 24 after the victim of an armed robbery the previous day – a regular bus rider – said he spotted the youths who’d robbed him. The Plaza was busy with passengers, the two officers said.

The unarmed security officers and two police officers approached the suspects outside the Plaza after the robbery victim pointed them out. When the officers approached, one ran east and then north while the other headed west.

Police pursued one suspect while the security officers went after the other.

“We got about six, eight feet behind him,” Stein said in an interview Thursday.

“He starts reaching toward his waistband and slowing his pace.”

Stein said he grabbed the suspect and pulled him to the ground. When Stein patted him down, he found the loaded weapon.

Hamilton said: “I kind of looked at him, and you could tell by the look on both of our faces we were kind of shocked.”

The arrest, Hamilton said, was gratifying, because there’s “one less person running around there with a gun.”

The suspect they duo nabbed was identified as Drakarie D. Mills, 17, of Tacoma, who is being held on $100,000 bond on first-degree armed robbery and weapons charges in adult court.

Police arrested the other suspect, who was allegedly armed with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, several blocks to the east. He was identified as Timothy T.E. White, 17, of Spokane Valley. He is being held on $50,000 bond for first-degree robbery and weapons charges, also in adult court.

Both guns were reported stolen, one from Pierce County in 2005 and the other in a Spokane Valley burglary less than two weeks before the downtown robbery. One of the suspects told officers that they were affiliated with a gang. Both were in Spokane County Jail on Thursday.

The victim in the Feb. 23 robbery told police that he had a gun stuck in his abdomen by one of the two robbers, who got away with $65 cash. The robbery occurred in an alley next to the Holley Mason Building, 157 S. Howard St.; the victim was on a smoke break from work.

STA security coordinator Clifford Schlienger said Hamilton and Stein “were smart about” the way they handled the incident by waiting until the suspect brought his arms free from his waistband before closing in.

Police Officers Shaney Redmon and Wayne Downing, who pursued the other suspect, lauded the security officers at the Plaza in a letter to STA. “They never hesitate in helping us regardless of the risk involved,” the letter said.

Stein and Hamilton are among 16 Securitas security officers and eight STA officers who keep an eye on the crowds at the Plaza.

Redmon and Downing are assigned to the Plaza as part of a funding partnership in which STA pays for one police officer and the city pays for the second.

Mike Prager can be reached at (509) 459-5454 or by e-mail at mikep@spokesman.com.

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