A Spokane police dog named Leonidas had a busy night on Thursday, first catching an escaped fugitive then overtaking a man running from police on a dirt bike up a mountainside.
Police say canines are a great help in incidents like these because their sense of smell and sight are so much stronger than humans’ and they can protect officers from being assaulted.
Leo is trained and handled by Officer Craig Hamilton. The dog was born in the Czech Republic and has been part of the Spokane police force since the summer of 2008, when he was 16 months old. Leo responds to commands in Czech and is a playful dog who loves kids, information on the police website says.
On Thursday night, the first incident began when officers from the county/city Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team were searching for Jarreau S. Squetimkin, 26, who was wanted on the escape warrant. Squetimkin allegedly was driving a stolen car and was armed with a shotgun, a release said.
Police found the suspect shortly before 7 p.m. near 1500 E. Sprague Ave. A car chase followed but was stopped when it headed toward downtown Spokane. Following a tip, police found the suspect again near 11th Avenue and Sherman Street where he was driving a white Mitsubishi. When police attempted to stop the car, the suspect jumped out near 7th and Division and ran into the woods.
Because of the danger Squetimkin allegedly posed, Leo was sent in after him and caught him. Squetimkin was taken into custody and booked into jail on the escape warrant.
A few hours later, around 10:30 p.m., police chased a man driving recklessly on a motorcycle, who took off when an officer tried to stop him near Wellesley Avenue and Martin Street. The man, later identified as Charles Culp, 50, continued to Bigelow Gulch and then began riding his dirt bike up a mountainside.
Hamilton and Leo were called in and the officers tracked Culp about two miles up rugged terrain, a release said. Leo was able to catch up to the motorcycle and prevented Culp from escaping.
Culp was taken to Deaconess Medical Center for “minor injuries” then booked into Spokane County Jail for attempting to elude and possession of a controlled substance.