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Panhandler found dead

Thu., June 4, 2009

Man was a regular near Fifth and Maple, police say

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

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

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

The man was found in the parking lot next to the McDonald’s drive-through exit lane. Customers continued to use the drive-through as officers investigated the scene and the partly covered body.

An open can of beer was sitting near the body, and an unopened can was found in a small, green canvas bag in the man’s possession.

Moses said the man was a regular panhandler at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Maple, where eastbound traffic exits from Interstate 90 to head downtown. Officers had made numerous contacts with him in an effort to stop the illegal panhandling, he said.

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

A cap with the words “Marine Veteran” was among the man’s possessions. He was dressed in swimming trunks and a T-shirt.

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