The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office says a 46-year-old man with stolen cigarettes led a deputy on a chase that ended at Ness Elementary School early Sunday morning.
Johnathan McElfish was booked into Spokane County Jail shortly after 4:30 a.m. Sunday, about three hours after the Sheriff’s Office said he robbed the Zip Trip convenience store at 1403 N. Mullan Rd. A clerk told authorities McElfish entered the store with his face covered by a red handkerchief around 1 a.m. He walked behind the counter, grabbed two packs of Camel 99 cigarettes, and told the clerk, “If you say anything I will kill you,” then left, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. He took off on a bike headed east on Sinto Avenue.
About a half hour later, Deputy David Lawthorn — the same officer who’d responded to the robbery call — spotted a man ride by on a bicycle with a large knife on his belt during a traffic stop in the area, according to the news release. Lawthorn gave chase in his patrol vehicle, eventually detaining McElfish on the playground at Ness Elementary until the clerk could arrive and identify him as the robbery suspect.
McElfish was found with two packs of Camel cigarettes and clothing described by the clerk. She was able to identify him because of previous trips to the location, according to the news release. He was also wearing distinctive mismatched gloves when arrested.
McElfish faces second-degree robbery charges in the incident. He is scheduled to make a court appearance Monday afternoon. The state is requesting a bond of $5,000.