June 19, 2012 in City

Police mistake hit-and-run suspects for accomplices

By and The Spokesman-Review
 

Brittanei Fawver’s flip flop sits outside of her smashed-up SUV at Second Avenue and Walnut Street Tuesday afternoon.
(Full-size photo)

It was a bad day to be named Josh or Brittanei.

As hundreds of police spent Tuesday night searching the city for two suspected accomplices with those first names in the shooting of two Spokane County deputies, Joshua Berg and Brittanei Fawver were cruising along Second Avenue in a Ford Explorer.

A police officer on patrol ran the license plate numbers after noticing some suspicious driving and learned that the vehicle’s owner had a suspended license.

So he flipped on the flashing lights and the Ford Explorer accelerated through a red light and smashed into small pickup truck, said police Cpl. Dave Adams.

Fawver was the driver, according to police, and tried to keep driving away. It didn’t work out.

The smashed-up SUV failed the couple, so they made a run for it. Fawver ran right out of her white flip-flops.

Meanwhile, the massive on-duty police force from the day’s earlier officer shooting and police chase began to converge.

Officers caught up with the 21-year-old Fawver first, nabbing her near the Grocery Outlet store a couple blocks away.

Then the search for 24-year-old Berg intensified as confusion about who these suspects were intensified.

Within minutes Berg was lying on asphalt at Eighth Avenue and Walnut Street with police rifles pointed at him, said witness Justin Bender.

“They weren’t messing around,” he said of the police.

Fawver and Berg are lucky to they weren’t shot in what could have been a case of mistaken identity.

“This whole thing was completely freakish,” said Adams.

Fawver now faces a felony hit-and-run charge. Berg was arrested on an escape warrant.

And both may face charges for a baggie of what Adams said was suspected methamphetamine.

“This was not the right day to run from police,” he said.

It was the latest odd moment in wild day of chases and manhunts that fetched crowds wherever the clues led.

In north Spokane, residents gathered on East Princeton Avenue as the Spokane County sheriff’s SWAT team surrounded Josh Fowler’s house at 903 E. Princeton Ave. Some of the bystanders goaded the team to hit the house and recreational vehicle as another neighbor cranked rock music out his front window.

As the officers waited, two men and a woman came around the house and officers immediately began yelling at them to get down. The officers pointed weapons at the trio as they had them walk backwards toward the officers.

The two men were Steven Knapp and Nate Thompson, both 26, who said they saw the police chase go past and had been visiting various crime scenes around north Spokane. They said they heard something about East Princeton and went to check on Thompson’s aunt.

They didn’t know that his aunt’s home was right next to one of the suspects from the shooting incident. Three officers came into the aunt’s home checking for suspects and told Thompson and Knapp to go outside. But somebody didn’t tell the other waiting officers.

“They freaked out when we came outside. I was about to run when I saw the assault rifle,” Knapp said. “That wasn’t cool.”

Speaking of cool, just after Thompson was detained and released he pointed to his T-shirt, which read: “It’s all fun and games until the cops show up.”


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