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Reward targets suspect in girl’s shooting

Crime Stoppers is now offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of a man accused of shooting a 6-year-old girl earlier this month.

Abubakar “Abu” Samura, 21, is wanted on two first-degree assault charges for the shooting at a home March 4 in the 1800 block of East Fourth Avenue.

Spokane police say victim Matthew Woods was at the home with a friend about 8 p.m. when he heard someone from a home nearby in the 300 block of South Pittsburg Street yell what he understood to be a derogatory statement about their gang.

The men responded and one shot Woods in the leg, then fired several more times as he ran to a nearby home.

Three witnesses granted anonymity by police identified Samura as the gunman.

Samura, 5-foot-5 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 1400 block of East Hartson Avenue in Spokane.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Boy’s death 3rd gun accident in 3 weeks

The vehicle where a 3-year-old boy fatally shot himself with a gun is seen behind police tape and parked at a gas station early Wednesday in Tacoma. (AP photo/komonews.com)

By DONNA BLANKINSHIP and DOUG ESSER,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A 3-year-old scrambled out of his child seat after his parents stopped for gas early Wednesday, found a gun police say was left in the car by his father and fatally shot himself in the head.

The accidental shooting in Tacoma marks the third in three weeks in Washington involving young children, and the second death. The spate of gun violence is raising questions about the effectiveness of the state's gun laws and community awareness of firearm safety.

Tacoma police Officer Naveed Benjamin said the 3-year-old boy's death highlights the need for people to secure guns.

“It is incredible in light of the other ones,” Benjamin said. “You would think people would take more care, not less.”

Tacoma police said the boy's death came after his father put his pistol under a seat and got out to pump gas while the mother went inside the convenience store. The boy's infant sister, who also was in the car when the gun went off, was not injured.

The Pierce County medical examiner has identified the boy as Julio Segura-McIntosh of Tacoma.

Detectives questioned the parents and have called the shooting a tragic accident, Benjamin said. The father has a concealed weapons permit, and no charges have been filed, he said. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said that he is reviewing the case for possible manslaughter charges.

Washington does not have a law specifically concerning child access to firearms, but state law is very specific about carrying loaded pistols in vehicles.

A person with a concealed weapons permit may carry a gun in a car in Washington state, but is required to have it on his person. If they have to leave it in the car, the law says it must be locked and concealed from view.

The Wednesday shooting follows the death of the 7-year-old daughter of a Marysville police officer in Stanwood on Saturday when a sibling found a gun and fired while the parents were out of their car. And on Feb. 22, an 8-year-old girl was critically wounded in a Bremerton classroom when a gun fired inside the backpack of a 9-year-old boy as he put it on a desk.

The two deaths represent an uptick in the number of these tragic accidents, according to Washington state health officials.

About one accidental firearm death of a child each year is typical in the state, according to state health statistics gathered between 2007 and 2010, said Health Department spokesman Tim Church. During that same time, an average of nine kids 17 and younger ended up in the hospital because of an accidental shooting, Church added.

“You can't predict what children are going to do,” Benjamin said. “You need to unload and lock it up if you're not carrying it. … It's really not that hard to practice firearm safety.”

A spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation said existing laws are enough to encourage gun safety, as long as the gun owners obey them.

“Responsible people will maintain gun safety whether there is a law or not; irresponsible people will ignore the law,” said Dave Workman, senior editor of the group's publication, thegunmag.com. He said existing statutes, including child endangerment laws, were designed to prevent such tragedies.

Workman said what he can't figure out is why the two men left their guns in their vehicles when they were licensed to carry them.

“Most responsible gun owners, especially if they're licensed to carry, will keep their firearm with them,” Workman said.

Twenty-seven states have some form of law to prevent child access to firearms, but Washington is not one of them. Such laws can include criminal penalties for adults who allow children to get their hands on guns, according to the San Francisco-based group Legal Community Against Violence.

State Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, expressed doubt that the Legislature could succeed at overcoming opposition from gun rights advocates to strengthen state gun laws.

He said a former state representative tried and failed for years to strengthen restrictions on firearms sales at gun shows.

“The forces that be wouldn't even support doing that. It's pretty strong from the gun lobby that they don't want to see any change under any circumstance,” Hunt said.

Washington Cease Fire Executive Director Gregory Roberts responded to the latest shooting, saying, “We think guns are dangerous, but they are not treated as dangerous by our society or by laws or by our regulations,” he said. “We regard guns as some sort of sacred object that should not be subject to regulation.”

The Seattle organization is currently running a campaign of ads on buses urging people to think twice about owning guns. People with guns in their home or car are more likely to injure or kill a family member or loved one than to use it against an intruder, he said.

In Saturday's shooting, off-duty Marysville police Officer Derek Carlile had parked the family van near Stanwood City Hall, and he and his wife were out of the vehicle when one of their children found the loaded gun and fired. The shot hit 7-year-old Jenna Carlile, and the girl, the oldest of their four children, died Sunday at a Seattle hospital.

The 8-year-old Bremerton girl, Amina Kocer-Bowman, remained in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after nearly dying in the accidental shooting at Armin Jahr Elementary, where a classmate brought a handgun to class.

Authorities believe the boy took the .45-caliber gun from the glove compartment of a car while visiting his mother and her boyfriend at their home. He lives with an uncle.

___

AP newsmen Jonathan Kaminsky and Chris Grygiel contributed to this story.

Suspect still sought in girl’s shooting

A man accused of shooting a young girl Sunday night confronted a group with a gun after hearing gang-related insults, Spokane police allege.

Abubakar “Abu” Samura, 21, is wanted on two counts of first-degree assault. A $500,000 warrant was issued Tuesday.

Police say several bullets from Samura's gun struck a home in the 1800 block of East 4th Avenue, including one that lodged inside the foot of a 6-year-old girl inside the home.

Read the rest of my story here.

Suspect named in shooting of young girl

A suspect has been identified in a shooting that injured a 6-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man in east central Spokane.

Abubakar “Abu” Samura, 21, is wanted on two first-degree assault charges for the shooting at a home Sunday in the 1800 block of East Fourth Avenue.

Samura's home address is not known, but he's believed to frequent the area of East 9th Avenue and South Perry Street, Spokane police said today.

Officers responded to reports of a man shooting another man in a front yard near Liberty Park about 9 p.m. Sunday.

The man who was shot ran to a neighbor's house for help before collapsing, police said. Police believed the girl was an unintended victim of the shooting. Both victims are expected to survive.

Police say the shooting is gang related. Anyone with information on Samura's location is asked to call the gang enforcement team at (509) 625-GANG (4264). He's described as 5-foot-4 and 160 pounds.

Felon ineligible for Kootenai Co. sheriff

A candidate for Kootenai County sheriff who shot a man in downtown Coeur d'Alene in 2009 and later pleaded guilty to a felony heroin charge is not eligible for the position, officials say.

 Adam Mathis Johnson, 27, cannot hold office because he's on probation for two years after pleading guilty to a felony controlled substance charge, Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Thursday.

Johnson will get his rights restored once he completed a two-year probation term. Until then, he's also restricted from carrying firearms.

Johnson was arrested on drug charges in Post Falls in April.  He was arrested on an attempted murder charge in December 2009 after  a shooting in downtown Coeur d’Alene that a grand jury ruled was self defense. Johnson's victim is suing his own civil lawyer for malpractice.

Johnson was featured in The Spokesman-Review a weekend before the shooting in a story about the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.. He was also featured in 2007 in a story about his business, Convertec.

Cigar leads to arrest in July burglary

A cigar left at a burglary scene last summer led detectives on Wednesday to arrest a 21-year-old man as a suspect.

DNA on the cigar that was sent to the state crime lab matched DNA that Trevor Codi Frantz provided when he was convicted of a felony first-degree theft in April 2010, according to court documents.

Detectives seized the cigar while investigating a burglary in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue in Spokane Valley July 30. They believe the burglars used the cigar to try to light the home on fire.

A career criminal now serving life in prison, Larry A. Powell, fired shots at a neighbor who tried to stop the burglary. Powell was arrested shortly after the shooting. He already was wanted for not showing up for the end of his trial for a different robbery case.

Frantz was booked into jail Wednesday about 1 p.m. on charges of attempted first-degree arson and first-degree burglary.

7 assault charges reduced in plea deal

A man who fired several gunshots into a house, narrowly missing two toddlers, after a 2009 dispute over a dog accepted a plea bargain Monday that called for 60 days in jail, which he’s already served.

Lucas J. Merrill, 28, had faced seven counts of first-degree assault in a case that previously had been negotiated down to two misdemeanors by Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker. However, a District Court judge in November refused to approve the deal after Tucker declined a request to appear in court and explain the reduction in the severity of the charges against Merrill.

Instead, Merrill pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of third-degree assault, said his defense attorney, Tom Krzyminski. Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza sentenced Merrill to 60 days in jail and gave him credit for 60 days. Third-degree assault is the lowest felony level of that offense.

“I think it’s disappointing that he was not placed in Veterans Court. But it seemed there were too many roadblocks for that,” Krzyminski said.

In November, District Court Judge Debra Hayes questioned whether the plea agreement would put a federal grant that helps pay for Veterans Court in danger if she agreed to reduce the seven felonies to two misdemeanors. “This is about as close to a murder case as I’ve seen as a felony reduction,” Hayes said during a hearing on Nov. 14.

The charges stemmed from an incident in the fall of 2009 when Merrill and his roommate, Brock Woodson, believed that the neighboring Gertlar family had either poisoned or injured their dog. Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Garvin said in court that Merrill got very drunk and shot at the Gertlars’ home, which had seven people inside.

According to court records, bullets just missed two toddlers who were sleeping in the front room. The Gertlars, who indicated they weren’t happy with the previous plea bargain, did not attend the Monday sentencing, Krzyminski said.

Originally from Colville, Merrill served eight years in the military including two tours in Iraq. He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder and has suffered traumatic brain injury, Krzyminski said at an earlier hearing.

The case file included a letter submitted by Karen Gertlar who said the shooting “has affected our lifestyle and ability to live a safe and normal life. By someone’s careless act, we are constantly in fear and all of us have re-occurring nightmares,” Gertlar wrote.

Fight at restaurant leads to shooting

A fight at a downtown Spokane restaurant led to a shooting early Sunday.

Two men were shot in their lower legs by someone inside a white van after an altercation at Tacos Tumbras at West Second Avenue and South Cedar Street about 1:40 a.m., police said.
 
Police located the van at North Division Street and East Buckeye Street. The occupants denied shooting anyone but said they'd argued with others at the restaurant, police said.
 
Witnesses could not identify anyone in the van, so police released them after taking down their information.
 
The van was seized for evidence, and the investigation is ongoing.

Snowblower dispute leads to gunfire

A man fired two shots at his neighbor during a dispute over a snowblower in Colbert on Thursday, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Arnim Roland Olsen, 50, was arrested on a second-degree assault charge after his neighbor in the 19300 block of North Austin Road, William E. Rice, reported the shooting to 911.

Rice said he contacted Olsen at his home regarding the use of his snowblower. They argued about that and about a dog Rice gave Olsen's wife, according to court documents.

Armin pointed a revolver at Rice and fired twice, barely missing his right ear, documents allege.

Deputies say they found a revolver in Olsen's home with four live .22 caliber rounds and two shell casings, which was consistent with Rice's account.

Man arrested after gunfire just misses girl

A young girl narrowly avoided gunfire late Saturday after an 18-year-old man fired a gun into her apartment, police say.

The girl's mother, Elizabeth Harper, told police she and her friend, Bryan Chavez, were at the home on East Pine Ridge Court in north Spokane when she heard a gunshot about 9:29 p.m. and a stranger opened her unlocked door and stepped inside, according to the Spokane Police Department.

She repeatedly yelled for the man, identified by police as Alexander B. Pardue, to exit as he demanded to be let in “with a panicked look on his face,” police said in court documents.

Pardue left when Chavez emerged from a backroom, police say. Harper told officers she heard one of her daughter's crying and found a bullet hole just above her bed from a gunshot that traveled through the apartment.

A witness said he heard a gunshot just before he saw Pardue running through the parking lot holding a black handgun, police say.

Pardue's girlfriend, Stephanie Diluzio, told police an unknown man with a knife hit Pardue in the face with a baseball bat, and Pardue chased him and fired a shot. Pardue told police he'd fired his 9 mm handgun at the assailant “after yelling at him to stop,” documents say.

Pardue was booked into jail on  a first-degree burglary charge. He could face more charges.

Gunfire near park leads to police chase

This car flipped over during a chase with Spokane police early Thursday. See more photos from KHQ-TV here.

Reports of gunfire near Corbin Park early today led to a police chase that ended with the suspect's car flipping on its roof.

Salvadore Lazalde, 29, was arrested for attempting to elude police and a warrant for car theft after he crawled out of his overturned four-door compact car as officers approached near West Garland Avenue and North Oak Street.

Sgt. Dave Overhoff was responding to at least nine reports of multiple gunshots in the area of the park about 2:20 a.m. when he saw a car matching the description of a vehicle a witness reported speeding away from the area just after the gunshots.

The car fled, and police stopped the vehicle with a “pursuit intervention technique,” which involves nudging the fleeing vehicle's back bumper with a patrol car, which forces it into a spin that brings it to a stop.

Police said they chose to stop the vehicle because of the “dangerousness of a vehicle pursuit and the seriousness of the crime being investigated.”

Lazalde's car hit a curb before it flipped over, police said. He was taken to Deaconess Medical Center as a precaution before being booked into jail, police said.

The shooting remains under investigation, as does the status of the vehicle Lazalde was driving.
  

Murder victim’s family grateful for support

The parents of a woman found dead of a gunshot wound in her home on New Year's Day are thanking the community for the outpouring show of support.

 “There was so much evil when I walked into that house. The outpouring from her friends has really helped ease that,” said Toni Schmidt, mother of homicide victim Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34 (pictured).

More than 500 people attended Schmidt's memorial service on Sunday, with many standing in the hallways because they were not able to get in the room. Attendees included seven women who met Schmidt at a camp on Orcas Island when she was 19. They hadn't seen her in years, but made the drove from the Western Washington to pay their respects.

Toni Schmidt and Randall Schmidt were not able to greet everyone at the service, and they said Tuesday night that they want to make sure everyone knows how much they appreciate the support.

The Schmidts declined to discuss the details of the investigation into their daughter's death but said they feel the case will be solved.

They hinted at possible domestic violence issues with Schmidt, which they said were surprising at first because “she was an extremely strong and intelligent person,” Toni Schmidt said.

Schmidt was born in Spokane and graduated from Shadle Park High School and Eastern Washington University. She loved the ocean and was planning to scuba dive in Manila, Philippines when she went there for a two-week business trip for next month. She leaves behind a 12-year-old daughter.

Toni Schmidt called police after finding her daughter on Jan. 1 in her home on East Regina Avenue.

Sheriff's investigators arrived to find Schmidt dead in her bed with a gunshot wound to the right side of her head, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. A lamp had been knocked over, and detectives noted blood smeared on the wall at the head of the bed that indicated Schmidt's body had been moved.

They also found a small cloth, drawstring bag to Schmidt's left that had the front portion of the barrel of a gun visible, according to court documents. They seized the .25 semi-automatic handgun,, as well as .25 shell casing located on her bed, along with a fleece blanket with a bullet hole in it.

Detectives also seized three guns from a gun safe downstairs, and three from a laundry room cabinet, as well as ammunition. They also found a cell phone with its battery removed in a black purse on the kitchen table, according to the search warrant.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Local police to attend ranger’s memorial

(from left) Spokane police Officers Shaney Redmon, Ron Tilley and Mylissa Coleman prepare to travel to Tacoma for a slain park ranger's memorial service. (SPDphoto/Jennifer DeRuwe)

Members of the Spokane Police Department Honor Guard will attend slain Mount Rainier National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson's memorial service.

Cpl. Mike McCasland and Officers Ron Tilley, Mylissa Coleman and Shaney Redmon traveled to Tacoma for Anderson's memorial, which is today is at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Pacific Lutheran University.

Other SPD employees are attending the service on their own time, including Officer Teresa Fuller, who says the Spokane County Firefighters Pipes and Drums also will be there.

Anderson (pictured) was shot to death on New Year's Day while working at the park. The gunman was found dead the next day. Anderson was married to another Rainier ranger, and the couple has two young children.

Family and friends held a candlelight service Sunday evening in Eatonville in her memory.

The park reopened to the public Saturday for the first time since the shooting.

Cops: Fight over TV erupts in gunfire

Talk about too much TV violence: Police say a man fired shots at his former roommates during a fight over a television set.

Michael L. Backemeyer, 35, was arrested Sunday after police identified him as a suspect in the Dec. 26 shooting at 807 E. Augusta Ave.

Backemeyer was kicked out of the apartment by other tenants for stealing, police say. He showed up at the building to retrieve his television, but the tenants wouldn't let him take it because they said he owed them money.

“Backemeyer became angry and pointed a handgun at one of the tenants,” police said in a news release. “Officers found two bullet holes inside the ceiling and wall in the apartment.”

Police identified Backemeyer in part through witness descriptions of his distinct tattoos, including one of Benjamin Franklin on the back of his hand, according to court documents.

Officers arrested Backemeyer near North Nevada Street and East Joseph Avenue. He's due in court today on charges of first-degree assault and second-degree assault.

Homicide victim’s memorial is Sunday

A memorial service for a 34-year-old Spokane woman is scheduled for Sunday - one week after she was found dead of a gunshot wound.

Kimberly Rae Schmidt will be remembered at the Heritage Funeral Home, 508 N. Government Way, at 1 p.m.

Her coworkers at Pitney Bowes business-services company, where Schmidt worked as the leasing manager, are expected to attended.

Kathryn Epler worked for Schmidt and said she was a great boss and “very caring to everybody.”

Schmidt's murder has devastated her coworkers, Epler said.

“It's very hard to work,” she said. “We're all stunned that this could happen to someone who is so likable.”

Schmidt was planning a business trip overseas early next month, Epler said. She planned to spend her days off scuba diving, which Epler said was one of her passions.

“There's no way this was a suicide or anything like that,” Epler said.

Schmidt's mother found her dead in her home at 37 E. Regina Ave. Jan. 1.

The Medical Examiner's Office has not determined whether Schmidt's death was a homicide, but detectives are investigating it as one.

Schmidt was located in bed on her back with a gunshot wound to the right side of her head, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. A lamp had been knocked over, and detectives noted blood smeared on the wall at the head of the bed that indicated Schmidt's body had been moved.

They also found a small cloth, drawstring bag to Schmidt's left that had the front portion of the barrel of a gun visible, according to court documents. They seized the .25 semi-automatic handgun, as well as .25 shell casing located on her bed, along with a fleece blanket with a bullet hole in it.

Detectives also seized three guns from a gun safe downstairs, and three from a laundry room cabinet, as well as ammunition.

They also found a cell phone with its battery removed in a black purse on the kitchen table, according to the search warrant.

Schmidt was born in Spokane, graduated from Shadle Park High School and Eastern Washington University.

“Kim's pride and joy was her daughter and her hard work in dance and school,” according to her obituary. “Her favorite title was “Dance Mom” and enjoyed watching, with a little sadness how her —lil' monkey was growing into a young lady.” Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Utah officer killed, 5 wounded in shooting

Relatives of Jared Francom from second left, brother Travis Francom, Travis' wife Jessica Francom, and brothers Ben Francom and Gunner Francom attend a candle light vigil Thursday for law enforcement officers shot the night before in Ogden, Utah. Jared Francom died from his wounds.(AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Kim Raff)

By PAUL FOY,Associated Press
OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Search warrant in hand, a team of bulletproof vest-wearing officers rapped on the door of a small, red-brick Utah house, identifying themselves as police. When no one responded, authorities say, the officers burst inside.

 That's when the gunfire erupted.

 When it was over Wednesday night, a 7-year veteran officer was dead and five of his colleagues were wounded, some critically. The suspect, an Army veteran whose estranged father said suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and may have been self-medicating with marijuana, was injured.

Now, as the city tries to grapple with the outburst of violence and the loss of one of its officers, investigators are trying to determine how the raid as part of a drug investigation could have gone so terribly wrong.

“It's a very, very sad day,” an emotional Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said Thursday.

About 400 people, including officers in uniform from across Utah, attended a candlelight vigil to honor slain Ogden officer Jared Francom (pictured right) at an outdoor amphitheater Thursday evening. A moment of silence was observed, and a slide show of Francom and his fellow officers wounded in the shooting was shown.

 Francom's wife of seven years, Erin, (pictured left) stood on stage and fought back tears during the short program. The couple has two daughters, ages 5 and 3. Police declined to reveal details of the shooting besides a general timeline, citing the ongoing investigation.

They would not say, for instance, whether the shootout took place entirely inside the home or spilled out into the yard, how many shots were fired and how many guns were recovered.

There will be several investigations, including one by Ogden police and another outside probe by prosecutors.

Among the questions that authorities will try to answer was whether the officers, in the chaotic moments upon entering the house, may have inadvertently fired on each other.

Police said the warrant was based on information about possible drug activity, but would not say what officers were specifically looking for inside Matthew David Stewart's home, which sits across the street from a Mormon church meeting house.

Stewart, 37, was in the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, authorities said. He does not have an attorney yet.

Utah court records show Stewart's criminal history includes only a 2005 conviction for a class B misdemeanor traffic violation — operating a vehicle without insurance. A judge found him guilty after a bench trial and ordered him to pay a $350 fine.

State officials also placed a pair of tax liens on Stewart last August.

Stewart served in the Army from July 1994 to December 1998, spending a year based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and nearly three years stationed in Germany, Army records show.

He held a post as a communications equipment specialist, earning an Army Achievement Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. Both are given for completing active service, although they don't indicate exceptional acts of valor.

Stewart's father, Michael Stewart, said his son works a night shift at a local Walmart and may have been sleeping when police arrived.

“When they kicked in the door, he probably felt threatened,” said Michael Stewart, who has been estranged from his son for more than a year, but keeps track of him through his two other sons.

The elder Stewart said his son suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression and may have been treating it with small amounts of pot. He said he believes his son may have been growing the weed himself.

He said he didn't believe his son owned any automatic weapons and that the family is upset by what happened. “This is my son's problem and we're grieving for him and all of the officers,” Michael Stewart said. “I'm dead sick about it.”

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said it wasn't yet clear what charges Stewart might face once the shooting investigation concludes.

“But it appears right now, with the information we have, that we have an aggravated murder as well as a number of other attempted aggravated murders,” Smith said, choking back tears.

Aggravated murder is a capital crime and, if convicted, Stewart could face the death penalty.

By midday Thursday, more than 1,000 friends and strangers had expressed their support and gratitude for Francom and his family on a memorial Facebook page with prayers, poems and other message. Some posters swapped out their profile pictures for a black logo with a blue stripe representing fallen officers.

Francom's three brothers held a short news conference just before Thursday's vigil, lauding him as an “awesome man,” who loved adventure and was an example of service and dedication.

He died doing what he loved,” said Travis Francom, 25. “He worried at times for his safety … not so much for himself but for his family, his wife and little girls. I don't think he was ever afraid.”

Travis Francom (pictured) thanked the community for the outpouring of support shown for the family and asked for continued prayers for the other officers.

“I would also encourage you to remember the family of the suspect as they have a long road ahead of them as well,” he said. “I'm sure this must be a difficult time for them.”

Authorities said the conditions of the other officers ranged from serious to critical. They are Ogden officers Shawn Grogan, Kasey Burrell and Michael Rounkles, Weber County sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson and Roy officer Jason VanderWarf.

Kevin Burrell, Kasey Burrell's father, said his son was shot in the head. A seven-year veteran of the police force, the younger Burrell was sedated but appears to be improving, his father said.

On Wednesday, witnesses said they heard three quick pops followed by a two- to three-minute pause, then lots of gunfire and officers yelling at someone to “put your hands up,” in the backyard.

 Outside Stewart's house on Thursday armed SWAT officers clothed in camouflage remained on guard as police continued their search of the property. The yard was taped off and dotted with numbered evidence markers.

Residents said they were shocked to hear there was any drug activity in the area or a shootout on their street.

“This has always been a quiet neighborhood. We've been here for 11 years,” said Andrew Mair, who said his wife hid in the couple's basement in fear when the gunfire rang out. “I've never heard anything crazy going on.”

Extra security at rap murder arraignment

Top to bottom, left to right, are Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; and Tyrone J. Carell, 23. All are wanted on assault charges related to the murder.

UPDATE: All suspects except Stafone Fuentes and Rashad Toussiant have been arrested.

Law enforcement officers were in Spokane County Superior Court today to provide extra security at the arraignment of murder suspect John “Lil Danger” Castro, who is accused of shooting another rapper at a Spokane hotel.

Castro (pictured left) pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, riot, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and two counts of second-degree assault for a Nov. 27 fight that ended with the shooting death of Jose A. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake, at a Spokane hotel.  His trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 27, but that likely will be postponed.

Castro, 27, remains in jail on $1 million bond. Public defender Anna Nordtvedt said a request to reduce his bond is to be heard on Thursday. Castro faces life in prison if convicted because of two previous violent felony convictions that qualify him for the state's three-strikes law.

Eight other men are charged with assault in connection with the case. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of the six pictured above.

Sheriff's deputies and Spokane police provided extra security at Castro's arraignment before Judge Annette Plese, which was attended by Solis's friends and family. No incidents were reported.

Police believe Castro shot Solis after Solis and other men tried to help their friend who was being assaulted.

Castro and the other suspects went to the Quality Inn on East Third Avenue after a rap concert and were kicked out of a party hosted by the Moses Lake men, police say.

One of the men argued with a woman in the hallway, and he and others began assaulting her boyfriend. The woman and a friend ducked into a room and called for help as the men continued to assault her boyfriend and kick the door to the room, according to police. Solis and others arrived from another floor to help, and Solis was shot int he chest, police say.

Surveillance video captured the suspects running to and from the melee.

Detectives are reviewing Castro's work as the rapper “Lil Danger” as they continue to investigate the case.

Man says fatal shooting was accidental

A St. Maries, Idaho, man accused of murdering an 18-year-old woman told police he accidentally shot her in the face while checking to see if his gun was unloaded, officials say.

 Joseph Duane Herrera, 28, is in jail on $200,000 bond after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder in Benewah County District Court.

He was arrested Sunday for the shooting death of Stefanie Comack.

Read the rest of my story here.

Reward targets suspects in hotel murder

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of six men charged for their alleged roles in a fatal shooting involving two aspiring rappers at a Spokane hotel.

Pictured above, top to bottom, left to right, are Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; and Tyrone J. Carell, 23.

All are wanted for second-degree assault except Fuentes, who is charged with first-degree assault.

The charges stem from a Nov. 27 fight at the Quality Inn, 110 E. Third Ave., that led to the shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake. 

Aaron A. Maxwell, 23, Anthony L. Fuentes, 29, and Michael J. Charles, 34; already have been arrested. John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge. Castro faces life in prison if convicted under the state's three-strikes law because of his criminal history.

Police believe Castro shot Solis to death in a wild fight that began when the Spokane group tried to attend a party at the hotel hosted by the Moses Lake group, who were in town for a rap concert at Ichiban Sushi Lounge at which Solis performed.

The Spokane men were kicked out, and Jermaine Bedford insulted a female friend of the Moses Lake men, Jazman Quarles, and challenged her boyfriend to a fight, police say. A wild fight ensued, and Quarles and a friend hid in a room and called their friends to help her boyfriend, who was being assaulted in the hallway. They arrived, including Solis, and the fight continued, ending in the gunshot that killed Solis. Witnesses identified the gunman as Castro.

Hotel surveillance video does not show the shooting but does show the participants running to and from the confrontation, according to court documents prepared by Spokane police major crimes Detective Kip Hollenbeck.

Police believe the Moses Lake men only acted in self defense during the fight.

Fuentes, 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of West Shannon Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and escape. He was jailed briefly last summer after news of his uncle’s murder outside a rap concert in Montana in June revealed to his probation officer that he’d left the state without permission.

Jermaine Bedford, 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of East Queen Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and riot.

Kalen Bedford, 6-foot-4 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 1300 block of West Qualchan Drive. His criminal history includes a conviction for delivery of a controlled substance.

Carell, 5-foot-8 and 130 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of East Wedgewood Avenue. His criminal history includes conviction for second-degree assault. He was arrested in November after police investigating a 2007 homicide saw marijuana in his apartment.

Shanks, 6-foot-2 and 155 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of South Wall Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and second-degree robbery.

Toussiant, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, last gave an address in the 3000 block of North Lacey Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault, malicious harassment and bail jumping. A conviction for intimidating a public servant was dismissed upon appeal.

Anyone with information on the current location of any of the six men is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Boy shot in pot theft was hit in back

A 14-year-old* boy was shot in the back when he tried to burglarize a marijuana grow room in Medical Lake on Monday, documents show.

The boy, who was in satisfactory condition after undergoing surgery to remove a .45-caliber bullet, ran from the room in the 600 block of North Grant Street early Monday with another 14-year-old boy after the homeowner, Justin J. Brown, yelled something similar to “what are you doing in my house?” according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

 The boys dropped baseball bats, a screwdriver and a flashlight and ran just before a shot was fired and one of them dropped to the ground with a bullet wound to his lower back. Brown told police he awoke to a burglary alarm and “fired once at figures inside” the grow room after seeing someone moving inside, according to the warrant.

Brown told police chased after the intruders and found the shot boy sitting in the backyard about 15 feet from the room’s door. His wife called police.

The Spokesman-Review does not name juvenile criminal suspects unless they are charged as adults with serious felonies.

Brown told police he grew marijuana in the room but stopped when his medical authorization expired, according to the warrant, which was used to seize evidence from the property, including the handgun and baseball bats.

Investigators with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office will forward their investigation to the prosecutor’s office for a decision on whether to charge Brown.

The injured boy’s accomplice stole marijuana plants and buds from the same room Dec. 15, according to court documents.

*The Sheriff's Office first said the boy was 14, then said he was 13, but court records show his birthdate is in March of 1997, making him 14.

9 men charged in rapper’s fatal shooting

Nine men have been charged for their alleged roles in a fatal shooting involving two aspiring rappers at a Spokane hotel.

Spokane police detectives are looking for six men on second-degree assault charges for a Nov. 27 fight that led to the shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake.

(Pictured above, top to bottom, left to right) Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; Tyrone J. Carell, 23; are wanted for second-degree assault.

Aaron A. Maxwell, 23, Anthony L. Fuentes, 29, and Michael J. Charles, 34; already have been arrested.

John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge.

Read the rest of my story here.

Pot involved in shooting of teen suspect

A teenager who was with the 13-year-old boy shot during a Monday burglary had stolen marijuana from the same home less than a week before.

The boy who was shot remains in satisfactory condition at a local hospital after undergoing surgery following the shooting in Medical Lake.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man shot in CdA in ‘09 sues lawyer

A Moses Lake man who was shot by a Coeur d'Alene businessman nearly two years ago in what a grand jury ruled was self defense is suing his civil attorney for malpractice.

Brandon R. Burgess alleges Spokane lawyer Lloyd Herman directed him to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to determine whether they needed to file a claim in bankruptcy court after Adam M. Johnson filed for bankruptcy.

Burgess said his father responded that the procedure would not discharge their claim, and Herman responded by not filing an adversarial proceeding against Johnson.

Herman says that's not true - he always told Burgess he needed to file a claim in bankruptcy court, but Burgess took the wrong advice.

“I never put him in touch with any bankruptcy lawyer. he told me he had a bankruptcy lawyer,” Herman said. “Instead of suing him he sued me”

Burgess is seeking damages to cover his medical expenses and others costs associated with the shooting. He had been seeking money from Johnson before his claim was dismissed because of the procedural error.

Herman said it's unlikely Burgess ever would have recovered civil damages after a grand jury rejected criminal charges against Johnson.

“The likelihood of them ever recovering once the state didn't charge him with a crime is slim or none,” Herman said.

Johnson was arrested on drug charges in Post Falls in April. He pleaded guilty to possession of heroin in November and is to be sentenced in January. The plea deal, which dropped a drug paraphernalia charge, calls for him to serve time in a local jail.

Murder suspects due in court today

A Spokane couple arrested after a fatal shooting Thursday is due in court this afternoon.

David C. McLaughlin, 21, (pictured) and his girlfriend, Melinda R. Barrera, 31, are to appear in Spokane County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. via video from the jail, where they were booked about 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

The victim's name has not been released.

Police believe Barrera shot the man in the chest after McLaughlin assaulted him. Read more here.

McLaughlin and Barrera do not appear to have criminal records in Washington state, but McLaughlin was convicted of misdemeanor theft in Nez Perce County in August 2010. He was sentenced to 16 days in jail.

Mistaken jail release cited in murder spree

AP Enterprise: Rules ignored in Craigslist case
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Texas parolee now suspected in a deadly Craigslist robbery scheme was mistakenly released from Ohio custody last summer not once but twice.

 Richard Beasley, 52, should never have been released from the county jail in Akron, where he was being held on drug charges this summer, said Texas officials and the head of a national commission that oversees prisoner-transfer rules.

The brother of a victim whose body was found last month called Beasley's release tragic. Ohio is now investigating what went wrong, an inquiry that state officials called unprecedented.

Authorities say they are planning to charge Beasley with killing three men and wounding a fourth between August and November.

Yet Beasley left jail on bond July 13, was rearrested July 14 after a traffic stop, then let go again despite the existence of Texas warrants asking he be kept in custody, according to interviews and records reviewed by The Associated Press.

“He shouldn't have been released either time,” said Harry Hageman, executive director of the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision, which oversees rules that have the force of federal law.

“Because there was a warrant from Texas, there's no bond, regardless of the arrest or defense,” he said.

The regulation for bail that governs inmates wanted by another state is clear, according to commission rules: “An offender against whom retaking procedures have been instituted by a sending or receiving state shall not be admitted to bail or other release conditions in any state.”

Ohio has begun an investigation into Beasley's release, the first such review that the head of Ohio's interstate parole council can recall.

“It seems to be a case that warrants the attention of the Ohio council,” Sarah Andrews, chairman of the Ohio Council for Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, told the AP.

Less than a month after Beasley was released from Summit County Jail for the second time, on July 15, a previously homeless Akron man was shot in the head in in rural southeastern Ohio.

Authorities discovered the body of Ralph Geiger more than three months later, on Nov. 25, as they investigated the deaths of two men and the wounding of a third who answered a phony Craigslist ad for work on a cattle farm.

Read the rest of the story by clicking the link below.

Utah dog shoots hunter in buttocks

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah bird hunter was shot in the buttocks after his dog stepped on a shotgun laid across the bow of a boat.

Box Elder County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Potter says the 46-year-old Brigham City man was duck hunting with a friend when he climbed out of the boat to move decoys.

Potter says the man left his 12-gauge shotgun in the boat and the dog stepped on it, causing it to fire. It wasn't clear whether the safety on the gun was on at the time.

Potter says the man was hit from about 10 feet away with 27 pellets of birdshot. He says the man wasn't seriously injured, in part because he was wearing waders. The man was treated at a nearby hospital.

Murder suspect, victim aspiring rappers

A 21-year-old man shot to death at a Spokane hotel early Sunday tried to intervene in a fight when he was shot in the chest by a man his friends recognized as an aspiring young local rapper, witnesses told police.

 Witnesses told police that victim Jose A. “Junior” Solis, Jr., was part of a rap group from Moses Lake in town for a concert at a downtown bar when a fight broke out with the suspected gunman, identified by detectives as John Anthony Castro, 27 (pictured).

Castro, who raps under the name “Lil Danger,” remains in jail on $1 million bond after appearing in Spokane County District Court Monday on a second-degree murder charge. If convicted, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole under Washington’s three-strikes law because of two previous violent convictions.

Read the rest of my story here.

Accused killer has long criminal history

In this Nov. 14, 2003, photo, John Castro talks with police and Spokane SWAT members from a roof on East Gordon Avenue after barging inside, kicking out the residents and daring the police to shoot him. (SRPhoto/Jed Conklin)

A 27-year-old man suspected of shooting another man to death in a fight at a downtown Spokane hotel has an extensive criminal history. 

John Anthony Castro (pictured in 2009) was released from prison in July 2007 after serving three years and four months for second-degree robbery, second-degree assault, delivery of cocaine, attempt to elude police and first-degree malicious mischief, according to court records.

He was arrested in November 2003 after a standoff with police that began six hours earlier when he left a home he had invaded and led police on a high-speed chase through residential neighborhoods. Castro was released from Department of Corrections supervision in July 2010.

Now he's back in custody on a second-degree murder charge for a fatal shooting at the Quality inn, 110 E. Fourth Ave., about 2:40 a.m. on Sunday.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office is conducting on autopsy on the 21-year-old victim today. He has been identified as Jose Arturo Solis. Castro is being held on $1 million bond. Read more here.

Steven Tramp, the manager of Quality Inn, said the shooting involved a group originating in Moses Lake was occupying a dozen rooms at the hotel after attending a concert in Spokane.  Read more from Pia Hallenberg's story here.

Suspected gunman hides in koi pond

A suspected gunman took a plunge into a cold koi fish pond but couldn't hidehis smell from the police dog that tracked him to his backyard hiding spot Sunday, police said.

Before being carted off, Aaron P. Williams, 23, of Spokane, was checked for hypothermia. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail on a charge of first-degree assault with a firearm, police said.

Williams is to appear in Superior Court today on that charge and an additional charge of second-degree unlawful posession of a firearm.

The arrest followed a shooting just before 2 a.m. in the parking lot of the nearby Goodtymes Pub, 9214 E. Mission Ave., during a confrontation between two groups of men.

One man suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the leg, police said.

The alleged shooter ran south from the pub and was tracked by the Spokane Valley police dog to a home in the 9300 block of East Sinto Avenue.

A small, semi-automatic handgun that police believe was used in the shooting was found in a nearby mailbox.

Suspects plead not guilty to ‘07 murder

Three young people arrested for the 2007 shooting death of a 30-year-old Spokane man pleaded not guilty to murder charges Tuesday in Superior Court.

Derrick Gregory Martin-Armstead, 20; (left) Jaleesa D. Anderson, 22; and Marc A. Anderson, 20, (right) each are charged with a single count of first-degree murder.

  Martin-Armstead was arrested Oct. 24 after an informant told police he'd implicated himself in the murder of Daniel J. Burgess during conversations at the jail in May and June 2008.

Burgess was shot to death on Nov. 12, 2007 while in the living room of a home at 2413 N. Dakota Ave. The three suspects remain in jail.

The murder investigation has led to two search warrants targeting controlled substances this month.

On. Nov. 3, detectives search a 2000 Buick LaSabre belonging to Martin-Armstead as part of a crack cocaine investigation. A confidential informant had bought crack cocaine from Martin-Armstead in July and August.

Martin-Armstead was driving the Buick when he was arrested on the murder charge. He told Detective Jeff Barrington that “he did sell crack cocaine but that he was not involved in any homicide,” according to a search warrant.

Barrington and Detective Kevin Langford seized only a box for a scale from the Buick. Five days later, Barrington went to an apartment at 202 E. Wedgewood Ave. to talk to Tyrone J. Carell about the homicide investigation.

Barrington said he saw a drug scale, marijuana bud and bong in the apartment, which smelled of marijuana. He came back less than two hours later with a search warrant, seizing suspected marijuana, paraphernalia, and a semi-automatic handgun.

Carell, who was targeted in the Hoopfest shooting in June 2010, has not been charged.