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Teenager involved in car shooting near elementary school released from jail

Wed., May 1, 2013, 3:56 p.m.

A judge today released an 18-year-old high school senior, one of two people charged in connection with shooting a woman’s car near Whitman Elementary School, after pleas from family members that he be allowed to finish school.

Tanner J. Caldwell, of Springdale, appeared today before Superior Court Judge John Cooney on two charges of first-degree assault. Also charged in the case is a 15-year-old male. The younger man is suspected of using a handgun to shoot out the rear window of a 1997 Ford Expedition as the driver, Amber Williams, waited with her toddler to pick up her older child from school.

Under questioning by police, Caldwell admitted initiating the confrontation at 5400 N. Helena St. by telling Williams that she was blocking traffic. Caldwell said the 15-year-old raised a CO2-powered pellet gun and shot out the woman’s rear window, Spokane Police Detective Paul Lebsock wrote in court records.

Lebsock searched the Expedition and found that the projectile that smashed the window also hit the car’s roof liner near the driver’s head, above the 1-year-old’s child-safety seat.

Caldwell fled the scene but Williams took down the license plate from the 1989 Nissan pickup. Officers located the two young men about 90 minutes later.

Officers found two pellet guns when they arrested the 15-year-old.

“At this time, I cannot conclusively determine the gun used in this incident,” Lebsock wrote. “The evidence does, however, show that some kind of gun, either a firearm or pellet-style gun, was used.”

Based on that information, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Rachel Sterett asked Cooney for a high bond for Caldwell.

Caldwell “was the driver and had the argument with the other driver,” Sterett said. In addition, “there were several other kids in the area.”

Public Defender Todd Porter argued that Caldwell did not fire whatever kind of gun was used and noted that he has no criminal history.

Caldwell’s uncle, Todd Caldwell, asked Judge Cooney to release his nephew. “He’s been working very hard to finish up his high school education,” the uncle said. “He’s a good kid.”

Caldwell’s father, Patrick Caldwell, also asked the judge for no bond.

“He is not a violent person. He does have a job” as a busboy, Patrick Caldwell said. “He’s about to graduate. I just pray you give him the chance to have that happen.”

Cooney agreed, but told Tanner Caldwell that he could not go within a five-block radius of Whitman Elementary School and could not possess firearms, including pellet guns.

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