Sheriff vows ‘full and complete’ investigation into shooting
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich extended condolences today to the family of slain pastor S. Wayne Creach, who was shot to death Wednesday evening by a Spokane Valley Police officer.
Knezovich said he wanted to assure the community that a full and complete investigation will be conducted. However, Knezovich offered no new details and did not name the officer who shot Creach.
“Two nights ago our community experienced an unfortunate moment that impacted all of our lives,” Knezovich read from a prepared statement. “Our sympathy goes out to the family of Wayne Creach for their loss.”
In a written statement this afternoon, the Creach family thanked the community for its support. “We appreciate your prayers and thoughts and ask that you continue to remember us during the next difficult days,” the family said.
The statement continued, “We would also like to take this opportunity to say that while we are in shock and extreme grief, we know that the deputy who was involved in this tragedy is also dealing with his own personal crises. Our family extends our compassion and our prayers to him today and in the future. We know he will carry the memory of Wednesday night and this tragedy with him for the rest of his life.”
The family also announced the services for Creach will be Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. at Greenacres Baptist Church, where he was pastor for the past 40 years.
“Dad loved his family and the people of this community – he was a pastor, business owner, employer and friend. His passing will leave a huge hole in the lives of many,” the family wrote.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office operates the Spokane Valley Police Department under contract. The incident is being investigated by the Spokane Police Department under an agreement that calls for city police to investigate officer-involved shootings within the county sheriff’s office, and vice versa.
Spokane Police Major Scott Stephens said investigators will not release more information about the shooting until next Thursday. The delay stems from the fact that investigators won’t know all the details about what happened that night until they speak with the officer, he said.
As per department policy, investigators won’t speak with the officer until 48 hours after the incident, which would be late tonight. Spokane Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said she didn’t know whether that interview will occur tonight or on Saturday.
The only new information offered today was that a neighbor of Creach’s called for an extra patrol in the neighborhood Wednesday night.
The officer, who was in full uniform and driving an unmarked patrol car, parked in the empty lot of Creach’s greenhouse at 14208 E. Fourth Ave.. The 74-year-old pastor lived in a home next door to the business, The Plant Farm.
Creach apparently thought the officer was a prowler and approached. Officials have not said what type of confrontation transpired, but the officer shot Creach in the chest. Investigators later found a gun near Creach.
“Once the investigation is complete, we as a community will have the facts surrounding the events,” Knezovich said. “Again, I want to reassure the community that the investigation under way will be complete and thorough, and that the community will receive a complete account of this unfortunate incident.”