September 30, 2012 in City, Idaho

CdA police kill man after he opens fire downtown

‘He was shooting at us. It was duck and cover time’
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Video: Coeur d’Alene police shooting
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

Idaho law enforcement gather on Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive near Higgens Point to investigate an officer-related shooting Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

Also today

On the Web: Read or download a copy of the fatal incident protocol at spokesman.com/documents.

• How to help: Authorities are asking any witnesses of Saturday’s incident to call (208) 446-1300.

Coeur d’Alene police shot and killed a man Saturday after police say he shot someone, then fired a gun at officers and civilians as he drove through Coeur d’Alene.

“He was shooting at us,” witness Rick Knoke said. “It was duck and cover time.”

The mayhem that left police to process at least five crime scenes around town began just before 11 a.m. near 12th Street and Lakeside Avenue. One unidentified victim was shot in the chest and taken to Kootenai Medical Center, where he underwent surgery, according to Kootenai County sheriff’s Maj. Ben Wolfinger.

The shooter then started firing randomly at bystanders in the area as he drove, according to police and witnesses.

Knoke, who lives in an apartment complex at the intersection where the shooting occurred, said he was sitting outside when he saw the violent confrontation take place.

A white four-door vehicle pulled up and stopped, Knoke said. The shooter got out of the front passenger-side seat and fired two shots from a handgun at a man in the back seat. The female driver and the shooting victim exited the car and fled for cover. The shooter got in the driver’s seat and took off in the car, but not before firing off about four more rounds at residents in the immediate area.

“He got in the car and reloaded,” Knoke said. “I’m shaking. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The suspect fled eastbound on Mullan Avenue, then down Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive, Wolfinger said. During the chase, the suspect repeatedly fired at officers and people in town.

The man lost control of his car near Higgens Point and exchanged fire with officers. He was shot and killed, police said.

“There was an exchange of gunfire between the city officers and the suspect,” Wolfinger said. “The suspect was hit, fatally injured here at the scene.”

Police said only that the suspect was a white male in his early to mid-20s, but his identity is being withheld pending notice to his next of kin.

“This is a very popular spot,” Wolfinger said. “It’s a beautiful day. We’re very fortunate there wasn’t more tragedy. We’re fortunate no one else was injured.”

Witness Den Flowers heard screaming and commotion outside his apartment door near the initial shooting, so he opened the door to see what was going on.

“I saw a scene that freaked me out,” he said.

A man was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest as he and a woman frantically tried to find safety.

“Life was draining out of him right before my eyes,” Flowers said. “He took a pretty good shot.”

The unidentified victim’s condition was not released late Saturday.

Flowers ran out the building’s back door and down an alley, and saw the suspect fleeing down Lakeside in the white car. When police arrived, he waved them in the direction the suspect fled.

“He drove right past me,” Flowers said. “I had eyes on him the whole time he drove down Lakeside.”

Another witness in an SUV also followed the suspect and told police where he was going.

Flowers said the suspect then shot at a resident walking his dog near 19th and Lakeside, but the man was apparently uninjured.

Police spent the rest of the day Saturday processing multiple scenes, Wolfinger said. It is unknown what precipitated the original shooting incident.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “We’d like to know, too.”

The Interagency Critical Investigation Team, which is made up of officials from local agencies, will investigate the shooting, Wolfinger said. The sheriff’s office is leading the investigation.

The names of the officers involved will not be released until they have been interviewed, he said, which will be within 72 hours. He declined to say how many officers fired their weapons.

Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive was closed at Yellowstone Trail most of the afternoon. Lakeside from 11th to 13th was also closed while authorities investigated.

“We’re still trying to put all the pieces together,” Wolfinger said. “We don’t even know how many witnesses we may have.”

This is the third fatal police shooting in the region this year and the second in North Idaho.

On Sept. 5, Edward S. Gover, 47, was shot to death by deputies in his girlfriend’s Spokane Valley backyard. Deputies said Gover advanced on them, claiming to have a weapon.

In March, two Post Falls police officers and an Idaho State Police corporal shot Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, to death after a chase ending in Hayden in which Todd hit a trooper with his car.

“This is right at my door,” Flowers said of Saturday’s shooting. “I’m a little shaken up.”

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