A Spokane police dog named Leonidas had a busy night on Thursday, first catching an escaped fugitive and then overtaking a man fleeing from police on a dirt bike.
Police say dogs 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, a German shepherd, 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 summer 2008, when he was 16 months old. Leo responds to commands in Czech and is playful and loves kids, the police department website says.
The first incident Thursday night began when officers from the county/city Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team were searching for Jarreau S. Squetimkin, 26, who was wanted on an escape warrant. Squetimkin allegedly was driving a stolen car and was armed with a shotgun, police said.
Officers found the vehicle shortly before 7 p.m. near 1500 E. Sprague Ave. A chase ensued but was abandoned because of safety concerns when it headed toward downtown Spokane. Following a tip, police found the suspect again near 11th Avenue and Sherman Street in a different car, a white Mitsubishi. When police attempted to stop the car, the suspect jumped out near Seventh Avenue and Division and ran into the woods.
Because Squetimkin was believed to be dangerous, Leo was sent in after him. The 75-pound dog caught the suspect and Squetimkin was taken into custody without further incident.
Squetimkin was 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 fled when an officer tried to stop him near Wellesley Avenue and Martin Street. The man, later identified as Charles Culp, 50, began riding his dirt bike up a hillside near Francis Avenue and Florida Street.
Hamilton and Leo were called in and the officers tracked Culp about two miles up rugged terrain, a news release said. Leo was able to catch up to the motorcycle and prevented Culp from escaping. Culp was booked into Spokane County Jail on suspicion of attempting to elude and possession of a controlled substance.