Witnesses describe fatal north Spokane shooting
A gunman suspecting of shooting at a home was shot and killed by Spokane police officers Friday after abandoning his truck outside a busy restaurant and firing at officers, witnesses said.
The man, whose name has not been released, died on the lawn in front of a Spokane Tribe of Indians building at the southeast corner of North Madison Street and West Indiana Avenue about 3:15 p.m. He appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s.
Officers were responding to a report of a man with a shotgun firing rounds at 1402 W. Buckeye Ave., when the suspect fled in a white Chevrolet pickup with a canopy, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
The suspect abandoned the truck in the left lane of southbound Monroe Street, in front of Shari’s restaurant, and fled with the shotgun before he fired several shots at officers and was killed, witnesses said.
The gunman was shooting at his father at the Buckeye Avenue home, where the men had been visiting acquaintances, Reagan said. Reagan said witnesses at the Buckeye home began calling 911 about 3:05 p.m. to report six shots fired.
Officers caught up with the man just before he abandoned his truck and began walking westbound behind Shari’s, Reagan said. Witnesses said he fired at police and into the air, Reagan said.
Reagan said six officers with the Spokane Police Department fired shots.
The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting with detectives from Washington State Patrol, Reagan said.
Wayne Buckingham, 28, said he saw at least six or seven officers ordering the man to stop as they ran through a parking lot behind Shari’s and the tribal building, which houses youth programs.
Buckingham was smoking a cigarette outside a home near Madison and West Nora Avenue when he heard what he thought was a tire blow. He heard police commands and saw the man fire several shots at the officers as he ran through the parking lot.
“They were trying to get him to stop and he wouldn’t and he started popping off shots,” Buckingham said. “He busted a shot at the cops, then busted five or six more.”
Police screamed at the man to stop after the first shot, then fired several rounds, Buckingham said.
“It happened so damn fast, it’s still sinking in on me,” he said. “Thank God the police are here … I could have been shot by one of those bullets.”
The shooting closed a four-block area around the busy Northwest Boulevard and Monroe Street intersection through Friday night. Police said streets could stay closed through this morning because investigators planned to return to the scene.
Police locked down Shari’s to interview customers who may have witnessed the melee. The restaurant closed for the rest of the night, as did other area businesses.
Several other neighbors heard the gunfire. Two children were playing in a grassy area near the lot when the gunfire erupted, Buckingham said.
No one other than the gunman was injured, police said.
A neighbor who didn’t want his name used said he was working on a car as four children played nearby when he heard a shotgun blast, followed by five or six more shots, then eight to 10.
“By that time, I was on the ground,” he said.
“I stand 100 percent behind the police,” he said. “They were protecting the public.”
Aaron Brown, 31, said he saw the man run from police after abandoning the pickup.
“He fired at them, he kept running and they shot him,” Brown said. “He got off a couple rounds before he laid down.”
Vikki Rowland, a 23-year resident of the neighborhood, said she was raking leaves in her yard about two blocks from the scene when she heard gunshots. She saw police covering the man’s body with a tarp.
“How sad,” she said.
A man who lives in back of the Buckeye house, where police first responded, said he heard a gunshot and saw the suspect pointing a shotgun at the home before police arrived.
The gunman already was in his truck when an officer drove up, the neighbor said. He drove southbound on Cedar toward Northwest Boulevard as police followed, said the neighbor, who refused to give his name.
The Buckeye address appears to be a rental home. The neighbor said he’d never seen the gunman before Friday but did see the truck parked at the home regularly.
Police closed the intersection of Buckeye and Cedar after the shooting and expected to remain on scene for most of the night.
Reagan said the officers involved in the shooting were taken to the Public Safety building, which houses the sheriff’s office and city police department, immediately after the incident.
Investigators expect to return to the area todayto continue collecting evidence, Reagan said. A sheriff’s helicopter was expected to photograph both scenes from the air.