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Gunman shoots at police officer

Incident followed auto theft, earlier shooting

A gunman fired several rounds at a Spokane police officer early Wednesday, missing the officer but striking his patrol car.

The shooting occurred as the officer, who has not been identified, was helping guard the scene of a Tuesday night shooting in the 1100 block of West Frederick Avenue.

The gunman has not been identified, and detectives from the drug, gang and major crimes units are poring over tips, said spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

“Just definitely protect yourself,” DeRuwe said. “If they’re going to shoot at us, they’re not going to hesitate to shoot at the community.”

The officer was at Frederick Avenue and Madison Street about 5 a.m. when he spotted a Suburban that had been stolen minutes earlier from the 1600 block of East Rowan Avenue and followed it. The Suburban’s owner had left the vehicle running to warm it up, police said.

The officer got out of his patrol car and called for backup when the SUV suddenly pulled over on Alice Avenue and a passenger in the car “fired several rounds directly at him and his patrol car.”

The officer, who was not injured, wasn’t able to return fire as the vehicle sped away, police said. One bullet hit the patrol car, entering through the front grille plate.

Patrol officers found the stolen Suburban abandoned at Dalton Avenue and Lincoln Street. SWAT team members and a police dog searched for the shooter but haven’t found any suspects, police said.

Police think the gunman was involved in an attempted car theft in the 1100 block of East Sanson Avenue about 20 minutes before the Suburban was stolen. A woman said she was inside her car when two men smashed out the driver’s side window and assaulted her with the grip of a handgun before she drove away. The woman suffered minor injuries.

Police encountered the stolen Suburban while investigating a shooting at 1103 W. Frederick Ave. hours earlier.

An 18-year-old man is in critical condition after being shot in an altercation between two groups in the front yard of the home about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Police are investigating if the shooting at the police officer is connected to the earlier shooting.