Arrow-right Camera


Doug Clark: The Fagans deserve Condon Coins for neighborly deed

Suggestion for David Condon, mayor of Spokane:

Remember those special coins you had made a while back to supposedly give away to visiting big shots and worthy citizens?

Well, if you have any leftovers, I’d like to nominate two residents who deserve such mayoral appreciation.

Mike Fagan and Donna, his wife of 34 years, namely.

Yeah, I know. Fagan’s a city councilman.

He already gets plenty of attention – both good and bad – in the course of simply doing his job.

But the story I’m about to tell has nothing to do with politics or the hoo-haw that goes on at City Hall.

This is about the example the Fagans set as good neighbors following a burglary that took place last Wednesday night a few doors away from their home.

The Fagans live not too far from Gonzaga Prep. For the sake of security, I’ll leave it at that.

I heard about this slice of urban drama thanks to one of my best tipsters.

So I called the councilman on Monday morning. Soon he was explaining how an average evening veered into abnormal when Donna gazed out a kitchen window.

It was about 10 p.m. when she saw the man with a rifle. He was lurking in the shadows, perhaps 125 feet away.

Donna summoned her husband.

“Oh, boy, he sure does have a rifle,” Fagan exclaimed upon joining the kitchen stakeout.

Fagan described the guy: Between 16-22 in age with long blond hair under a baseball cap. He wore a backpack and was heading east through the alleyway between Liberty and Dalton.

Rifle dude paused between two garages. Fagan figured he had stopped due to a nearby neighbor who was working on a car.

Makes sense.

Put yourself in the place of a burglar hauling a conspicuous weapon. The last thing you want is to be seen by a witness.

As the Fagans observed, the man stepped in between two garages. He was back seconds later, but minus the weapon.

“Three seconds later he was joined by another subject, a man, maybe a bit older, who wore a white T-shirt, dark pants and had clean-cut hair …”

Hold on a minute.

I know cop-speak when I hear it. The way Fagan was telling this tale had lawman all over it.

And sure enough. The councilman confirmed when I quizzed him that he had served in the U.S. Army as a military policeman for two years and detective for six.

But back to our tale …

Fagan said the two men stood and spoke when, all of a sudden, the older man looked up and “it seemed like our gazes met.”

A few seconds after that, the duo turned east and, as a pulp novel might state, disappeared into the dark of night.

Fagan, wearing a black terrycloth robe and armed with a flashlight, went out to investigate. There, in the wet grass between the garages, he discovered four high-powered rifles.

Picking them up, Fagan hustled back to his home and called for the police, who arrived in less than a half-hour.

Gradually, the facts emerged.

A neighbor who works nights had been burgled less than a week earlier. The punks had kicked in his back door.

They grabbed what they could in short order, some jewelry and a couple of weapons.

The victim had secured his broken door with lock and chain.

So this time, Fagan said, the thieves came in through a basement window and took their time.

They pawed through drawers and found the rifles under the bed where the homeowner had hidden them.

Man, I hope they catch these creeps.

With the physical descriptions and possible fingerprints left on the rifles, Fagan, the son of a veteran police officer and Navy man, thinks it just might happen.

Who knows?

Experience has taught me that you can never guess how something like this will end up.

But there is a bigger lesson, and that is about the importance of keeping an eye out for your neighbors and doing what you can to help.

The Fagans did the right thing.

“Everybody on our block knows each other,” said the councilman. “All of us are on a little more of an alert status.”

If that’s not worth a couple of Condon Coins, what is?

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at


There are 21 comments on this story »