The wife of a man shot and killed by Spokane police looked out her window Thursday in time to witness the death of a man she’s known since childhood.
“I just saw him sitting in the truck and they were still firing,” she said, sobbing. “It feels like a dream, it doesn’t feel real.”
Dan C. Jones, 40, died after being shot multiple times.
The incident began at 6:08 a.m. Thursday after Jones smashed his pickup truck into another vehicle twice near Division Street and Main Avenue and then fled, authorities said. Police gave chase and followed Jones, tires screeching, into the Salvation Army’s parking lot at 204 E. Indiana Ave., where they boxed him in.
Jones crashed into several patrol cars that tried to block his escape, officers said. Four police officers got out of their patrol cars and opened fire at 6:12 a.m.
Although Jones was unarmed, police Chief Frank Straub said the officers feared for their safety because he already had rammed multiple police cars and another vehicle within a span of just four minutes.
“A truck is a big weapon,” said Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin, whose agency is part of the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team, composed of the Spokane Police Department, Washington State Patrol and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The team is investigating the shooting.
The shooting was recorded by a surveillance camera on the Salvation Army’s building, Chamberlin said.
The incident comes just a day after Straub received accolades for implementing comprehensive department reforms based on the recommendations of the Use of Force Commission.
The four officers’ names will be released within 72 hours.
Nancy Jones and her husband, Dan, had recently moved back to Spokane after he was released from prison in Western Washington where he served a sentence on drug charges and a probation violation.
Court documents show Jones’ criminal history also includes convictions for theft, possession of stolen property, malicious mischief, taking a motor vehicle, attempting to elude police and driving on a suspended license.
The couple moved into the Salvation Army’s family emergency shelter on the agency’s north Spokane campus less than two weeks ago, Nancy Jones said. The couple has three children, ages 15, 14 and 4.
Jones said her husband had missed the 10 p.m. curfew at the shelter and had stayed the night with a friend; he was on his way home when the incident began, she said.
“I think he knew he was in trouble and was just trying to get to his family,” said his wife of 17 years. “He could be a little intimidating, but once you got to know him he had a heart of gold.”
His children were “his life,” she said. Dan Jones was teaching his eldest son to drive.
The couple had just gathered enough money to move into a home by selling household items and a camper, she said.
Her husband had been diagnosed with mental illnesses including schizophrenia, and anxiety and bipolar disorders, but he was taking his medication as prescribed, she said. Dan Jones was on disability because of his mental illnesses.
Many shelter residents are upset by the shooting, said Sheila Geraghty, a Salvation Army spokeswoman. “They all live together, so they know each other.”
A neighbor at the shelter, Rosey Blanks, said she looked out the window of the complex Thursday to see Jones in a red pickup truck, with several police cars surrounding him and officers with guns drawn.
Jones was yelling out the window that he wouldn’t come out, and that “you’re going to have to shoot me first,” Blanks said.
She began yelling out the window to police that they shouldn’t shoot, because Jones has mental illness.
“I was screaming at them, ‘He has mental health issues, please don’t shoot,’ ” Blanks recalled. “I guess I should have screamed louder.”
Reporters Nicholas Deshais and Kip Hill contributed to this report.