September 13, 2012 in City

Dead man may be tied to Wednesday shooting

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A fight outside a downtown Spokane hotel escalated into a shooting, killing one man and leaving Spokane Police scrambling to find a suspect who remains on the loose after he fled the parking lot of the Days Inn hotel.

Officers responded at 4:02 a.m. to a 911 call reporting five to six shots fired and found a man dead in the parking lot at 120 W. Third Ave. The victim was described as a black man in his 30s who was not from Spokane, police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

As of 3 p.m. today, officers have not made any arrests in connection to the shooting, she said.

While detectives this afternoon continued to withhold information about a possible suspect, DeRuwe confirmed that they are investigating whether the Thursday morning shooting was connected to reports of shots fired Wednesday afternoon on the South Hill.

In that case, a red scooter was reported stolen at about 1 or 2 p.m. At about 4:20 p.m., witnesses reported seeing a man with a gun riding a red scooter near 33rd Avenue and Thor Street.

The man got into a verbal altercation with three teens and fired shots that struck a parked van. But investigating officers were unable to find the suspect.

In the Thursday morning shooting, a red scooter was found near the shooting. It has been confiscated as part of the case, she said.

Detectives also found handgun several feet away in the parking lot. But investigators had not yet determined whether it was the murder weapon, she said.

Lt. Joe Walker said investigators have possible information on a suspect and that information was given to patrol officers to make sure they are prepared if they find the vehicle that took the shooter from the scene.

“We don’t want officers to stumble into something they don’t know about,” Walker said. “We’ll get information out to the public about the suspect as soon as we verify it.”

One of the license plates given by witnesses turned out to be wrong, he said.

“We’ll be here for hours processing the scene and then we will be following up leads,” he said. “We’ll see where it takes us.”

Witnesses said two different vehicles left the hotel after the shooting. “A few people definitely took off,” he said.

Detectives initially restricted guests from leaving. Eventually, they allowed them to walk away. By about 7:30 a.m., detectives allowed guests to drive away from the parking lot.

Walker said the shooting comes at a time when the department is completed “tapped out” for resources, following several unsolved homicides in Spokane and the recent fatal shooting by Spokane Valley deputies.

As a result, the case was assigned to Major Crimes Detective Jeff Barrington but Walker had to call in detectives from the drug unit, property crimes, sex crimes and two traffic investigators.

“Obviously, with a murder we have to bring in all the resources we have,” he said. “In a case like this, we need to get as much information as fast as we can and just go.”

Early on in the investigation this morning, detectives arrested a man at the Days Inn, DeRuwe said. “He had an active warrant. He will be questioned, but it’s not clear whether he is involved,” she said.

Detectives obtained search warrants for two rooms and Spokane Medical Examiner Dr. Sally Aiken had arrived to begin photographing the man’s body, which remained in the parking lot hours after the shooting.

Even the autopsy will require Walker to find another detective to send to take notes.

“I don’t have anything to compare it to,” said Walker, referring to the 800-plus cases of homicides, robberies, felony assaults and other cases that major crimes detectives have been asked to review.

“It’s been a rough year to say the least,” he said. “We will be working this case 100 percent and all these types of cases. These guys need to be off the street.”

Reporter Chelsea Bannach contributed to this report.


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