A gunman fires into a crowd, hitting a teenager in the back. A carjacker beats a driver with a gun, trying to force her out of her car. Thieves steal an SUV, and one of them later fires shots at a police officer.
Spokane police now believe the events of Dec. 22-23 are part of a crime spree instigated by a man a friend described as “acting like Jesse James.”
Tony E. Dawson, 20, already was in Spokane County Jail in connection with the attempted carjacking when police say they connected him to the Dec. 23 attack on Officer Kristopher Honaker, who had been guarding the scene of the earlier shooting. Dawson now faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree robbery, three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and 10 counts of first-degree assault. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for decades.
“It was all one series of events,” said Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern.
Also charged are Margaret D. Shults, 22, accused of first-degree robbery; and Greg Sharkey Jr., 25, accused of attempted first-degree robbery and first-degree robbery.
A fingerprint on a Ford Bronco, which was targeted by thieves before a Chevrolet Suburban was stolen, helped link Dawson to the crimes, police said. Interviews led detectives to Shults and Sharkey, who reportedly admitted to stealing the Suburban with Dawson from the 1600 block of East Rowan Avenue early Dec. 23.
Court documents detailing the investigation indicate the shootings appear to have been orchestrated by Dawson, who Shults said had been carrying two handguns the night of the shooting and “was acting like Jesse James.”
Shults, who police say was driving the Suburban, told investigators Dawson ordered her at gunpoint to keep driving, then fired several shots at the officer. Dawson reportedly threatened Shults that if she stopped the vehicle, “he had no problem killing either Shults or Sharkey,” documents state.
“Shults heard multiple gunshots from directly behind her as she was driving away,” according to an affidavit filed by police in support of a search warrant this week.
Police say shell casings from a .45-caliber handgun found in the street match casings found where an 18-year-old man, Charles Everett, was shot in the back at 1103 W. Frederick Ave. on Dec. 22, McGovern said.
Dawson’s criminal history began at 13 with two juvenile felony convictions for stealing a car and includes a first-degree robbery conviction in 2006. Sharkey was convicted of first-degree robbery in 2006 for a holdup that left him seriously injured after the victim shot Sharkey in the chest, according to news archives.
Police say Dawson, Sharkey and Shults don’t appear to have intentionally driven by the shooting scene last week looking for police.
But when the officer began following them, they pulled over hoping he’d leave them alone, McGovern said.
“When that didn’t happen, they obviously went to plan B, which was shoot at the police officer,” McGovern said.
Honaker was uninjured, but a bullet tore through the front grille of his patrol car. Police found the .45 and a revolver hidden in the hot tub of a home at 800 W. Euclid Ave., McGovern said.
Police have sent the guns to the state crime lab for testing, along with a baseball hat that was blown out of the Suburban when Dawson allegedly shot at Honaker.
The attempted murder charge is for the gunshots fired at the police officer.
The shooting at the Frederick Avenue home came after a group of teens shined a laser pointer at another group, which included Dawson. Dawson is accused of firing six shots at the group of 10 people, which led to the 10 assault charges, McGovern said.
“He was just firing randomly into that crowd,” McGovern said.About eight hours after that shooting, police say Dawson smashed out the window of a Ford Bronco with the .45 and beat a woman with the weapon as he tried pushing her into the passenger seat.
The woman was able to drive away and was not seriously injured, police said. Sharkey and Shults were standing across the street when Dawson assaulted the woman, according to court documents.
The three stole the Suburban involved in the police shooting 20 minutes later, according to police.