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OxyContin robbery suspect dies of self-inflicted gunshot

A man who shot himself after a police chase Tuesday has died.

Nicholas T. “Niko” Burden, 31, worked as a car salesman and lived with his girlfriend and baby daughter before detectives say he began feeding an apparent OxyContin addiction by robbing pharmacies.

He was hospitalized Tuesday after police say he shot himself in a stolen Jeep he used to flee an armed robbery at the Rite Aid at 2929 E. 29th Ave. He was on life support today, and later died, according to a nursing supervisor at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Investigators say Burden stole the SUV from Barton Jeep in Spokane Valley several days ago. He’d been hired there but left with the vehicle during a break and never returned, officials said.

Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Tim Hines had been looking for Burden on Tuesday after developing probable cause to arrest him for a gunpoint OxyContin robbery at the Albertsons pharmacy at 57th Avenue and Regal Street on July 23.

Hines also suspects Burden was responsible for the July 9 gunpoint OxyContin robbery at the Albertsons at Trent Avenue and Argonne Road in Millwood.

“OxyContin is a particularly potent pain medication,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan. “When people can’t buy it, they steal it. Some of them steal it out of Grandma’s medicine cabinet. Some of them steal it from pharmacies.”

A suspected getaway driver has been identified in the July 23 robbery, but police have not yet made an arrest. A Toyota Sequoia belonging to a member of Burden’s family was used in that robbery, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Police responding to an 8:38 p.m. gunpoint robbery at the South Hill Rite Aid spotted Burden in the Jeep and used a pursuit technique to spin out the vehicle at Fifth Avenue and Sherman Street, where Burden shot himself, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case with the Washington State Patrol per the Spokane Police Department’s standard protocol. No officers were injured Tuesday, and none fired a gun, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators announced last week that one “very dangerous” man was believed responsible for the two gunpoint OxyContin robberies at Albertsons and released surveillance photos and a photo of the Sequoia.

Burden was arrested in May on three counts of possession of stolen property, but no formal charges were filed until Tuesday. Burden had been scheduled to be arraigned on the charges May 12, but prosecutors didn’t file charges and Burden didn’t show up for the hearing, according to court records.

The charges stem from Burden allegedly leasing a TV, surround-sound system and video game console from a leasing company, then pawning the property and not repaying the company.

Burden had a criminal history in Pierce County and has listed his address on traffic tickets as being in Tacoma, although Reagan said he’s lived in the Spokane area for about a year. Burden lived with his 24-year-old girlfriend in Colbert last fall, but she filed a protection order against him in November.

In court documents, the woman wrote that Burden worked in sales at Spokane Chrysler. She sought the protection order after Burden allegedly threatened her after she confronted him about drug use.

Burden’s last known address was an apartment in the 8900 block of East Liberty Avenue, about half a mile from the scene of the July 9 robbery.

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