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Panhandler dies at Spokane gas station

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2009, 7:38 A.M.

Police do not suspect foul play after employee finds man slumped over

A local panhandler died outside a Spokane gas station and restaurant this morning, hours after police had been called because he was drunk.

An employee found the man, said to be in his mid-40s, after daybreak today slumped next to a pair of pay telephone booths at a Chevron station and McDonald’s restaurant at West Fourth Avenue and South Maple Street, police said.

The man had a faint pulse at the time, but was dead when authorities arrived, said Officer Tim Moses. No foul play was suspected. The man’s identity was being withheld pending notification of family members.

Moses said the man was a regular panhandler at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Maple where eastbound traffic exits from Interstate 90 coming into the downtown area. He typically worked the corner with another man who was an associate.

“We are familiar with him,” Moses said.

Officers in the past had made numerous contacts with him in an effort to stop the illegal panhandling, Moses said.

At 2:30 a.m. today, police were called to a complaint about a drunk and contacted the man, who seemed to be all right otherwise, Moses said. Officers did not take enforcement action at the time. Police later learned that the man had been carrying medication and had apparently been using it.

The body was found on the pavement of the parking lot next to the phone booths and drive-up exit lane for the fast-food portion of the business. Customers continued to drive through the business as officers investigated the scene and the partly covered body.

An opened can of High Gravity lager beer was sitting on a concrete island next to the phone booths near the body, and another unopened can of the same beer was found in a small green canvas bag the man used to carry his possessions.

A cap with the words “Marine Veteran” was among the possessions. The man was dressed in swimming trunks and a T-shirt.

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