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Murder-suicide suspected at apartment north of the Y

Mon., Sept. 5, 2011

A 20-year-old woman was shot multiple times and killed Saturday night at a two-story, four-unit apartment building in Spokane County, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Investigators believe the killer was her neighbor, a 26-year-old man who was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound early Sunday in the ground-floor unit next door, Detective David Thornburg said in a news release.

Neither of their identities was released Sunday.

Police were called to the victim’s apartment at 205 E. Westview Ave., north of the Y, about 9:15 p.m. Police found the slain woman in her living room.

Witnesses in the apartment said the gunman was the victim’s neighbor, who had fled across the hall to his own apartment after the attack, Thornburg said.

Deputies were unable to make contact with the suspect, and a SWAT team entered the unit about 4 a.m., Thornburg said. Neighbors said they were awakened by a flash bomb that deputies used when they entered.

The suspect was found dead in his bathroom. Thornburg said several weapons were found inside the man’s apartment.

People outside the apartment cleaning up glass from a window that shattered when the SWAT team entered declined to comment Sunday afternoon.

Gary Nickeson, who owns the property, said the 26-year-old man lived at the building with his mother on and off for about 20 years. He said the woman who was killed had lived there for a couple of years.

“I’ve never had a real problem with any of them,” said Nickeson, a Colbert resident. “It’s the first time the cops have been there in 30 years.”

The building is across from the Ramada Limited Suites, which was full Saturday night, largely with the parents of Whitworth University students returning for fall classes, said Kara Taylor, the inn’s group sales manager.

Taylor said she heard a gunshot, but assumed it wasn’t gunfire and didn’t think much about it until she got a call from a 911 operator who asked for assistance to prevent guests from using exits onto Westview. The operator also warned that the shooter was thought to be “heavily armed,” she said.

“There are a lot of young people who hang out over there,” Taylor said of the apartment across the street. “They’ve never really disturbed us.”

Thornburg said county, city and state officers assisted at the scene while negotiators tried to make contact with the man and detectives obtained a search warrant.

Names of the woman and shooter will be released after autopsies are performed this week, Thornburg said.

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