March 27, 2013 in City

Police ID man who shot car thief; no weapon found

Shooter is a plumber and gun rights enthusiast
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photo

A forensics technician with the Spokane Police Department photographs the scene where an alleged car thief drove a green Chevy Suburban into detached garage at Sharp Avenue and Lee Street Monday morning after being shot and killed by the vehicle’s owner.
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The man who shot a car thief Monday is 56-year-old Gail Gerlach, according to a search warrant filed Wednesday.

Gerlach, of 1419 N. Lee St., owns a plumbing business and has no criminal record.

Spokane County Prosecutors have not charged Gerlach in the shooting death of 25-year-old car thief Brendon Kaluza-Graham. Police say Kaluza-Graham drove away in a 1997 Chevy Suburban left idling in Gerlach’s driveway. When Gerlach called 911 just before 8 a.m. Monday, he told the dispatcher he had just shot an armed man who stole his SUV, according to police.

But police found no weapon in the SUV or on Kaluza-Graham. They recovered a flashlight, a screwdriver, a pair of gloves and a set of keys – including multiple shaved keys – from the SUV after Kaluza-Graham’s death.

Gerlach told police that as the Suburban drove away, he saw the driver turn around, raise his arm and saw what he thought was a gun and that the thief was going to shoot at him.

He then pulled his own gun, a 9 mm handgun, and fired a shot, according to court files.

Police are investigating a charge of 2nd degree murder, according to the warrant.

Gerlach has been vocal on his social media accounts about his support of the Second Amendment.

In his biography on his personal Twitter account, Gerlach describes himself as a “right-wing conservative.”

In a Facebook post in Janurary, Gerlach wrote “To all my new friends, A militia must be prepared today, tomorrow and forever!”

Kaluza-Graham died from a single gunshot wound after driving the Chevy Suburban about two blocks and into a garage.

Gerlach’s publicly available social media posts include a slew of references to gun rights.

Another January post on his Facebook was a photo of a man holding a gun and said “I don’t register my 1st Amendment rights and I won’t register my 2nd Amendment rights either.”

The search warrant identified Gerlach as the owner of the green SUV that Kaluza-Graham is accused of stealing before he was shot.

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