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Tanner Caldwell, Spokane car shooting suspect, released

Thu., May 2, 2013

A high school senior accused of shooting a woman’s car with a pellet gun near Whitman Elementary School will be allowed to finish school after family members pleaded with a judge to let him out of jail.

Tanner J. Caldwell, 18, appeared Wednesday before Superior Judge John Cooney on two charges of first-degree assault. Also charged is a 15-year-old boy.

The younger suspect is accused 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 the school at 5400 N. Helena St.

Police say Caldwell, who lives in Springdale, Wash., admitted that he initiated the confrontation 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 woman’s SUV and determined the pellet that smashed the window also hit the car’s roof liner near the driver’s head – above the 1-year-old’s car seat.

Caldwell fled the scene, but Williams took down the license plate number.

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, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Rachel Sterett asked Cooney to set a bond at a high amount for Caldwell.

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

Public defender Todd Porter argued that Caldwell did not fire any gun and noted that he has no criminal history.

Caldwell’s uncle, Todd Caldwell, asked 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.

The status of the 15-year-old was not immediately available Wednesday.

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