As police closed in on a suspect in the shooting of two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies today, the suspect fired repeatedly at pursuing cars, then shot and killed himself in the Deer Park area.
The deputies, described as seasoned law enforcement veterans, are in stable condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where one has had surgery for his wounds.
“My deputies are OK,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said this evening.
Police do not believe any other shooters remain at large tonight, and there is no danger to the public, Spokane Police Chief Scott Stephens added in a press conference at 6:45 p.m.
The suspect is Charles R. Wallace, 41, who was indicted just a month ago on federal charges connected to a heroin distribution ring that authorities allege supplied at least 100 grams of the drug.
Following his arrest, Wallace was allowed to leave jail without posting bail May 31 for inpatient drug treatment in Spokane Valley, while awaiting trial in the heroin trafficking case. The pre-trial release conditions were approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno.
On Monday, when Wallace was supposed to appear in court to discuss how his treatment program was progressing, he never showed up, according to U.S. District Court records.
Wallace in 2002 was arrested after escaping from Geiger Corrections Center. As of that year, Wallace’s criminal record included 25 adult convictions for drugs, burglary, theft, forgery, assault, driving under the influence and attempting to elude police.
Wild police chase
After the deputies were shot this afternoon, Wallace led police on a high-speed chase on U.S. Highway 2, racing northbound in the southbound lanes. He then headed west on East Deer Park Milan Road, which turns into West Crawford Street in Deer Park.
The suspect was driving at a high rate of speed and shooting at pursuing officers in Deer Park.
Lori Musgrave saw the final moments of the police chase as the fleeing suspect raced past her Farmers Market and Bakery at Crawford Road.
The driver’s head was hanging out the window, a gun pointed out as well, she said. “The car was flying, just absolutely, down the road,” Musgrave said. Police were in pursuit. “I just told my staff to run.”
As the suspect attempted to turn onto Highway 395, he hit a guardrail and spun out. When police closed in on the vehicle, the suspect shot and killed himself, officials said.
Musgrave said she heard a gunshot, though the car was no longer visible, and pieced together later that it likely was the fatal shot.
How it began
The incident began in North Spokane around 4:18 p.m. when the deputies, who patrol the north county area, pulled over a vehicle for reckless driving at Newport Highway and East Elm Street, about a half mile north of the North Division Y.
Within 10 to 12 seconds the deputies were fired on, and both were hit, said Sgt. Dave Reagan of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
One deputy may have returned fire, Reagan said. One of the deputies may have recognized one of the people in the suspect’s vehicle, he said.
A third officer arrived moments later and called in the Code 99, for officer down.
Eyewitnesses said they heard about 10 gunshots, then saw the deputies on the ground. Paramedics arrived minutes later, and the deputies were rushed to the hospital.
The suspects fled the scene of the shooting in a black Suburban, then abandoned it at North Division Street and East Graves Road, a few blocks west.
Minutes later at least one suspect carjacked a 2002 Honda Accord from an older female driver in the vicinity, Reagan said.
Officers received a report at 4:42 p.m. of a possible sighting of the stolen Honda at Division and Cozza Drive, to the south of the officer shooting scene.
A minute later, a vehicle matching the description of the Honda was seen headed north on the North Spokane Corridor at Farwell Road, driving erratically.
As officers headed in that direction, they got another report at 4:49 p.m. of the car headed westbound on Greenbluff Road from Highway 2.
The car was spotted a few minutes later by an officer on Big Meadows Road headed west back to Highway 2. The car turned south on the highway for a short distance and then reversed direction to return northbound. At one point, the driver was headed north in the southbound lanes.
At Deer Park-Milan Road, the suspect turned west toward Deer Park, and an officer in pursuit reported by radio that he had struck the car, but the driver was still fleeing.
“It’s been a running crime scene basically since the moment the shots were fired,” Reagan said.
‘What they do best’
The wounded deputies are part of a 15-man platoon under Reagan’s command.
“The deputies were doing what they do best: stopping someone they believe might be a problem,” he said.
Reagan added, “We have not had the opportunity to talk to them other than to comfort them and ask them if there was any evidence we should be looking for.”
Reagan, who will retire after five more shifts, said just this morning he was looking through teletypes about officers killed during his career and said he thought to himself how fortunate his agency has been not to lose any deputies.
About 15 deputies and numerous other law enforcement were at the emergency room to support the injured officers and their families.
As of 6:30 p.m., Reagan said emotions had calmed down, but he was “wringing his hands” as he waited for one of the deputies to get out of surgery.
Map of locations from scanner traffic
View Spokane deputies shot in a larger map