May 1, 2014 in City

Police name Jeremy Arnold as homicide suspect they fatally shot

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Arnold
(Full-size photo)

The man police shot and killed Tuesday afternoon in front of news reporters and witnesses was Jeremy Arnold, a 37-year-old with a troubled background who investigators suspected had stabbed and killed a woman in north Spokane.

Arnold had returned to his home at 2512 N. Standard St., driving through a barricade police had set up as they investigated the stabbing death of 46-year-old Tracy Fergerstrom. When he stopped the blue pickup truck and climbed out with a gun in his hand, officers opened fire.

A neighbor who went to the house to borrow a computer had found Fergerstrom’s body wrapped in a blanket and called police.

Fergerstrom had known Arnold. She moved to Spokane several months ago.

An autopsy revealed she had been stabbed multiple times. Efforts to reach her family and friends went unanswered Wednesday.

Spokane police Chief Frank Straub said investigators had identified Arnold as a homicide suspect and were actively searching for him when he drove into the scene around 1:50 p.m. Tuesday.

A video captured by a KXLY cameraman shows the confrontation, which occurred shortly after a news conference about the discovery of Fergerstrom’s body.

Arnold drove through a police barricade, ignoring commands to stop from assembled police, Straub said. Arnold stepped out of the truck holding a silver object that police say is a gun.

In the past decade, Arnold had served a prison sentence and then lost his wife, Stephanie, in a July 2013 Spokane River incident as the couple floated a stretch of water in Spokane Valley. She died later that month.

Jeremy and Stephanie (Chandler) Arnold married under unusual circumstances. Arnold had pleaded guilty to a drive-by shooting along with robbery and burglary. As part of that plea deal, a judge gave him a week to get married before he went to prison.

He skipped out of his promise to return after a week, and the judge lengthened the prison term when they caught him.

During his stay in prison the couple befriended Jodi Conklin, who described 6-foot-5-inch Jeremy Arnold as kind and soft-spoken.

“I could call him at 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, and he would stay up and talk with me,” Conklin said.

She acknowledged that women gravitated toward Arnold and that he was capable of doing bad things. He was a hustler, she said, who was not about to go back to jail.

Just last Thursday night, Arnold called for help at Horseshoe Lake. He had been boating on the popular lake just north of Spokane in Pend Oreille County with a girlfriend, Mandy Waters, and his 2-year-old daughter.

At about 9 p.m., their fishing boat sank and they had to swim to shore in the cold and dark.

Arnold then left Waters and his daughter to swim across the small lake to call for help.

Pend Oreille County sheriff’s deputies used a helicopter to find Waters and the toddler within several hours.

Spokane police visited Arnold’s home Monday night on a welfare check for Waters. Waters’ friend called police saying she hadn’t heard from her and was worried.

A police officer drove by around 6 p.m. Monday and saw Arnold, as well as a woman he identified as Fergerstrom, standing in the home’s front yard, along with several children.

Police did not return phone messages Wednesday regarding the whereabouts of Mandy Waters.

Arnold’s lengthy and violent criminal history includes a 1995 federal conviction of distributing cocaine and carrying a firearm during a drug sale. According to previous news stories, he was released from prison in September 2004.

A month later he participated in a violent home invasion robbery as a lookout, according to court documents.

He was implicated in a drive-by shooting weeks later, and then in December his former girlfriend, a witness to the drive-by shooting, filed a restraining order against him. According to a news story, Arnold threatened the woman before he left the courtroom that day.

Arnold faced multiple charges from all those crimes in May 2005 when he was released from jail to marry. According to news reports at the time, Arnold cut off his ankle monitoring device and was on the lam for another week before being caught.

A judge threw out his plea deal, and Arnold was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison.

Instead, Arnold was released in June 2011 to the north Spokane address where the homicide occurred, according to court records. He was picked up within the year and sentenced to 90 days in jail on assault and domestic violence charges. The woman who requested protection was not his wife.

Tuesday, police discovered surveillance equipment at the residence that was running, according to court documents. Neighbors said the house received a lot of foot traffic.

Discovered at the scene were multiple articles of clothing stained with blood, as well as a pink folding knife, according to court documents. Bloody tennis shoes that are believed to belong to Arnold were also found inside the home.

A neighbor told police Arnold showed him a black semi-automatic pistol he owned. Arnold told the neighbor he owned blank rounds for the gun and that if the neighbor heard loud noises, not to worry, according to court documents.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting. It is the fifth such shooting this year. Tuesday’s shooting was the third fatal incident of 2014.

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