At least three bystanders were hurt Saturday when a man fired a gun into a crowd after a brawl in the middle of Hoopfest. Five men were arrested for the incident.
The shooting occurred shortly before 6 p.m. after two rival gangs squared off at Howard Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard in front of the Rotary Fountain in Riverfront Park.
One of the men pulled a gun and fired a shot, striking at least two womean believed to be bystanders. Shrapnel grazed another man in the ankle. The women were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries, authorities said. The man was treated at the scene.
“This is a rare and isolated incident,” said Rick Steltenpohl, Hoopfest executive director, noting that nothing like this has occurred in the tournament’s 21-year history. “We are grateful for the quick response by the Spokane Police Department.”
Police took five people into custody immediately. Under arrest are: Migelito C. Garcia, 19; Adam Doe, 19; Marquis Johnson, 21; Tyrone Carell, 21; and Kalen Bedford, 19.
Garcia faces three counts of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Doe is under arrest for second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and third-degree assault of law enforcement. Johnson was arrested on a probation violation and both Carell and Bedford were arrested for disorderly conduct, according to Spokane Police Department spokeswoman Teresa Fuller.
Kristin Beals, who works at the Sno Cone stand near the fountain, said she saw two groups fighting, and then heard a loud pop.
“The cops came rushing in; it happened really fast,” Beals said.
The shooting happened right near the 3BA elite courts on Spokane Falls Boulevard, where games had already concluded for the day, Steltenpohl said. Games on a few nearby courts were disrupted for a short time while police contained the chaos and located suspects.
Amanda Patterson said she was playing with her team, Crayola College, when they stopped because of the fight. But play resumed quickly.
“We lost. I think we should get a do-over,” Patterson said.
Many people nearby said they didn’t hear the shot. The music was loud, and there had been fireworks going off earlier in the day in the park.
“Most people didn’t have any idea what happened,” SPD’s Fuller said.
Steltenpohl said volunteers, including a rapid response team of off-duty police officers, work year-round training for the possibility of an incident like the one that occurred Saturday. It’s another level of safety, he said.
Inmate goes missing
In an unrelated incident, an inmate from a Geiger Correction Center work crew who was helping set up Hoopfest equipment in downtown Spokane escaped Friday night.
Gary J. Todd, 29, was serving time for a DUI conviction and was scheduled for release in October, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Todd’s crew finished work about 11:30 p.m. near the INB Performing Arts Center. He then asked to use a portable toilet. When he didn’t return after five minutes, a guard checked on him and found his discarded jumpsuit and goggles, according to the news release.
Geiger sent five crews to help set up for Hoopfest in downtown. Steltenpohl, who was not aware of Friday’s escape, said crews are carefully screened before being assigned to work at the event.
Geiger officials believe the escape was planned, given that Todd apparently had a change of clothes waiting for him. He is not considered a threat to the community, the news release said. But anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to call 911 immediately.