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Deputies had responded to Creach’s property many times

Tue., Sept. 14, 2010, 4:26 p.m.

Pastor Wayne Scott Creach not only routinely carried his .45 caliber pistol on his property, he was known by police to hold theft suspects at gunpoint until officers could arrive and once chased a fleeing suspect several blocks before apprehending him by threatening to “blow his head off.”

That report was among the 21 contacts Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies had with Creach or his business, the Plant Farm, over the last five years, according to records obtained by The Spokesman-Review.

On April 14, 2008, for example, Creach saw someone just after midnight riding away on a bicycle from his nursery complex at 14208 E. 4th Ave. in Spokane Valley with what looked like a plant hanging out of the suspect’s backpack.

“When the male continued riding away, (Creach) got into his car and drove around the neighborhood looking for the suspect,” according to the sheriff’s office report. Creach “found the male near the intersection of 8th and McDonald. (Creach) stopped the male, pointed his .45 caliber pistol at him and told him to get into his car or he would blow his head off.”

The report details one of nine calls for theft or burglary at the sprawling nursery complex. Of those 21 total contacts, some were for simple business checks or civil papers and two were for prowl checks.

The records show two other contacts this year, one on July 6 for a non-injury collision and another on Aug. 3, for a report of someone breaking into two vans and stealing fire extinguishers valued at $50 each.

Deputies responded four times each in 2009 and 2008.

It was on a prowl check Aug. 25 that Deputy Brian Hirzel, who was assigned to the Spokane Valley Police Department, killed Creach with a single shot to his chest. Hirzel had parked his unmarked police car in Creach’s private lot, backed up to the same merchandise that had generated many of the calls to deputies over the years.

On that night, Creach again armed himself with the .45 caliber pistol because his family said he believed Hirzel was yet another suspect trying to steal his inventory.

Hirzel told investigators that he saw Creach approaching from about 30 feet away with no shirt and a gun in his hand. Hirzel said he ordered Creach to drop his weapon and the pastor refused. Eventually, Creach put the gun in his waistband but refused Hirzel’s commands to get down on the ground, police officials have said.

Hirzel told investigators that he hit Creach with a police baton that caused him to crumple. Hirzel said Creach reached for his weapon and Hirzel fired when he saw the butt of Creach’s gun.

What’s not clear from the sheriff’s office records — because identities of individual deputies were blacked out — was whether Hirzel was ever one of the deputies who responded to the Plant Farm during his two years on the force. Spokane Police Department Lt. Dave McGovern said last week that Hirzel told investigators he did not have any prior knowledge of the many law enforcement contacts with Creach at the nursery.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Tuesday he was unaware that the deputies’ names were not included in the records released Monday.

“I think it’s important that we all know who was at those contacts,” Knezovich said.

The sheriff’s office would not release records of the 911 call made Aug. 25 by Creach’s wife, saying it’s part of an ongoing investigation.

Public records requests are handled by a sheriff’s lieutenant.

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