May 17, 2013 in City

Homicide suspect appeared to have gun, police say

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Details emerged about Thursday morning’s fatal shootings today, describing a fast-unfolding situation in which a homicide suspect was shot to death by Spokane police officers.

Justin Cairns, 21, was confronted by officers in a field behind his Nine Mile Falls home. He refused commands to put his hands up and get down on his knees. He made gestures that appeared to be checking on a firearm in his waistband, according to a search warrant.

Witnesses at the scene of the earlier fatal shooting of Cyrus C. Jones, 33, in Spokane had described a the shooter’s vehicle as a brown GMC truck that officers later determined was registered to Cairns at a Nine Mile Falls address on West Charles Road.

Police responded to what they thought was a pedestrian hit by a car around 12:48 a.m., but they learned a man had been shot.

The victim, Jones, died at a local hospital of at least one gunshot wound less than a hour later. However, witnesses told police they heard two to three shots.

A witness saw Cairns’ truck pull up to the 1428 W. Grace house and leave with Jones. He stopped one block west and then heard at least two shots. He approached the shooter’s truck, but Cairns pointed what appeared to be a gun at him, court records show.

Records said Cairns asked the witness if he wanted some too, but he drove away, first west on Grace Avenue and then north onto Maple Street, witnesses said. They then saw Jones lying in the roadway with gunshot wounds.

Officers learned the suspect’s address through witness descriptions of the truck and drove to Nine Mile Falls, 20 miles northwest of the initial shooting. They found the truck there and went to the back side of the house, where they saw Cairns walking out of the house, the documents say.

Officers told Cairns to put his hands up and get down, but he pointed at them with one hand and moved his other hand toward his waistband before he turned and ran, jumping a fence, detectives wrote.

They informed officers at the front of the house that Cairns was going that direction, and they confronted him as he came around the front of the house. After identifying themselves, three officers fired about five shots, killing him, documents say. Detectives wrote he appeared to have a gunshot wound to the head.

A semiautomatic gun was found in the grass where Cairns had jumped the fence, detectives said. Police Chief Frank Straub previously said a .380 handgun was found on the scene and that .380 bullet casings were found near where Jones was shot.

The officers have not yet been identified.

Detectives also seized a plastic handgun at the scene, court records show. Straub said Thursday there was no weapon on Cairns’ person when he was shot.

Detectives found bullets lodged in the home’s deck and the garage.

Detectives also seized a crystal substance they described as possibly meth from Cairn’s truck.

Cairns stole his stepfather’s handgun as a minor in 2007 before going out for a joyride in his grandfather’s car, according to court records.

The teenager fired shots while driving down Coulee-Hite Road – hitting a home with .380-caliber shells, the documents say.

Charges were dismissed for the Sept. 18 incident. Cairns didn’t have an adult criminal record.


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