Police have seized guns and drugs as part of their probe into the city’s first homicide this year, a suspected gang-related shooting early Sunday in a north Spokane alley.
Multiple shots were fired after fighting partygoers spilled from an apartment at 5403 N. Crestline St. into the muddy alley. The gunfire killed a 38-year-old man, whom friends and neighbors identified as John Williams.
Neighbors said it sounded like fireworks as at least 15 bullets riddled garages and fences.
“I sprang out of bed when I realized it was gunshots. It freaked me out, so I made sure my doors were locked,” said Aimee Kowell, who lives with her three school-age boys across the alley.
She saw a couple of cars leave the area when the shooting stopped, “going northwest. Really fast,” she said.
The body of Williams lay face-up, uncovered for several hours as investigators collected evidence.
Spokane Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe said an autopsy is scheduled for today.
People with known gang affiliations were at the party, she said. Major crimes detectives and the gang unit are investigating. The victim was known to police, DeRuwe said, declining to elaborate.
Police searched three apartments and two vehicles, seizing cocaine and two guns. One was a Ruger mini 30 rifle, found inside a vehicle that had been parked in the alley near the site of the homicide. Large shell casings found at the scene matched ammunition with the rifle, although detectives are not saying if the gun is the weapon used in the slaying.
Police also collected cups and glasses from the apartment where the party was hosted, hoping to determine who was there from fingerprints.
Several people have been detained for questioning, DeRuwe said. There have been no arrests.
Anthony Romanelli, who lives in the same triplex where the party was held, said he knew the victim.
“I know him and he was a good-hearted person,” he said. “He was a good guy – trying to get his life together.
“He don’t deserve to be dead. He was a man about peace and all that.”
Romanelli said the man, who worked as an independent painter, has an adult son who also was at the party.