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Victim of home invasion left wondering

Sun., July 12, 2009, 1 a.m.

Woman, dog recovering after Friday knife attack

A woman who was beaten in Friday’s bizarre home invasion that led to the shooting of the knife-wielding suspect said Saturday she still has no idea why the assailant picked her home.

Tara Tanner is left with swelling, bruises, a puncture wound in her leg, and a $3,000 veterinarian bill for emergency surgery on the family dog. Molly the pit bull was stabbed by the assailant, who kicked in the door of the house on the corner of East Glass Avenue and North Perry Street about 8:35 a.m. Friday.

A man later identified by local law enforcement as Jason Poss, 23, was carrying a butcher knife and a skateboard. He reportedly had tried to force his way into a house on East Gordon Avenue a few minutes earlier but was unsuccessful.

When he kicked the door at the house Tanner and her husband rent, the frame gave way around the latch and he got in. Tanner said she was coming from the laundry room with a basket of clothes when she came face to face with him.

She said he asked her two questions, she said: “Do you know who I am?” and “Do you know what day it is?”

Tanner didn’t know him. She can’t even describe what he was wearing. What she remembers are his eyes.

“They were this big,” she said, making circles the size of silver dollars with her thumbs and index fingers.

Tanner and other occupants of the house fled out the back door, and the stranger followed. She said she tried to get out of the backyard by climbing the fence, but a board broke and she fell. The stranger hit her with the skateboard.

When Molly came to see what the stranger was doing, he stabbed her in the rear quarters.

Although pit bulls have a reputation as being aggressive, Tanner and other family members said Molly is docile and more likely to lick a stranger than growl. After she was stabbed, she ran away and wasn’t found until mid-afternoon.

After the assault, Poss apparently tried to chase other people who had run out of the house, but they scattered, and he walked down East Courtland Avenue carrying the knife and the skateboard. Police arrived, and Poss refused orders to stop and drop the knife, making a stabbing motion toward one officer in a patrol car, according to the report from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. He was shot and killed.

A day later, Tanner still can’t figure it out. Because of the way he acted, and his eyes, she suspects Poss was on drugs; she can’t come up with another explanation.

Poss had no arrests for drug violations or any violent crime. His parents declined a request for an interview Saturday, and a woman who answered the door at their Spokane Valley home said they’re not ready to talk.

The Spokane County medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy on Poss and is sending samples of his blood to state crime labs to test for drugs. Those results might not be known for eight weeks or more, and until then, the autopsy report won’t be completed and released.

Tanner was treated and released from Providence Holy Family Hospital. Molly is still in a veterinary clinic after receiving emergency surgery to make sure none of her organs were punctured by the butcher knife, which cut her deeply. She needed more than 40 stitches to close the wounds in her back and across her stomach.

Faced with the $3,000 vet bill, Tanner and her family have decided to ask for help. They’ve set up the “T. Tanner Medical Fund for Molly” at Bank of America branches. Saturday afternoon, Tanner was affixing pictures of Molly to signs for the contribution jars. The family already had the OK from several businesses to place them, including the Texaco on Crestline Street and a downtown Chevron.

“She’s a good dog and I didn’t want to put her down,” Tanner said.

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