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Two donate to reward for murder suspect’s arrest

The reward for information leading to the capture of a Spokane man accused of gunning down two men in a dispute over a car trade is up to $1,750.

An anonymous donor recently gave $500 to Crime Stoppers, and another has said he’ll give $1,000. The organization had already offered $250 for tips that help arrest Merle W. Harvey, 27.

“For information on a double homicide, there’s an inflation factor here,” said Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern.

At least one of the donors is a friend of victim Jack T. Lamere, who was shot to death with Jacob J. Potter, 45, on Sept. 26 while working on a car at 1310 W. Boone Ave.

Harvey and Lamere, 41, were arguing about a car trade when Harvey said, “You want to make something about it, I’ll shoot you,” a witness told police. “Lamere stated, ‘Then shoot me,’” according to a search warrant filed last week in Spokane County District Court.

Another witness said Lamere had a gun and told Harvey and his girlfriend, Diane L. Richardson, 34, “you have three minutes to leave” before Harvey pulled a .22 rifle from a flat bed truck and fired. Harvey then fired “a bigger gun with bigger flashes” before fleeing in the truck with Richardson, according to the search warrant.

Another witness, Hiram Michel, told police he heard the shooter “say something to the effect of, ‘This is for ripping me off.’”

Autopsies showed Lamere and Potter died from gunshot wounds to the chest from a .22 caliber rifle. Police also found three casings from a .30-06 caliber rifle.

The dispute apparently centered on a Chevy Blazer Harvey had traded to Lamere for a Cadillac. Harvey wanted the Blazer back from Lamere, who didn’t want to trade the Blazer until he got the Cadillac.

About half an hour after the shootings, police found a blue 1994 Cadillac Deville at a home at 3911 E. Rich while looking for Harvey. A neighbor reported seeing a flat bed truck drive past about 20 minutes earlier.

Police arrested Mark H. Toner, 33, Sept. 27 on charges of rendering criminal assistance and witness intimidation after a woman told police he’d asked her to help hide Harvey, then threatened her when she refused.

Toner denied knowing Harvey or anything about the murders, police said.

The next night, Harvey’s mother, Faith Harvey, said she’d gotten a call from Richardson about 5 a.m. the day before who said they were “on foot, they were OK, and they had to go,” according to a search warrant.

Police are following tips that Harvey may be in Las Vegas with relatives, McGovern said.

Harvey served five years in prison after being convicted in 2000 of first-degree assault with a firearm.

Toner has no felony convictions.

Potter had several, including forgery, identity theft and possession of methamphetamine. He contacted the newspaper in August after he found a woman’s wallet on a bus and wanted to teach her how to avoid falling victim to the crimes he once committed.

Lamere had recently been released from prison after serving more than 10 years for his role in a large meth ring.