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Assault suspect jailed on $1 mil. bond

An assault suspect charged in connection with a murder at a Spokane motel in November has been jailed on $1 million bond after police caught him returning from an out-of-state flight.

Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27, (pictured) is prohibited from traveling out of state under conditions imposed by a judge who approved a $250,000 bail after his arrest Feb. 1. Fuentes posted that bond Feb. 29.

The Spokane gang team arrested him Thursday at the Spokane International Airport as he returned from Las Vegas on a late-night flight.

Fuentes could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of second-degree assault for a wild fight Nov. 27 fight at the Quality Inn, 110 E. Third Ave., which led to the shooting death of aspiring rapper Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake.

Another aspiring rapper, 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.

Fuentes' lengthy criminal history includes two convictions for strikes: second-degree assault and first-degree robbery. He also has been convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.

He was jailed briefly last summer after news of his uncle’s murder outside a rap concert in Montana revealed to his probation officer that he’d left the state without permission.

Police still awaiting DNA in McGill murder

Police continue to investigate the stabbing death of a woman who was walking her dog near the Spokane River May 3 and say they have leads coming in frequently.

 “They are all being followed up on by a detective,” according to an email from Major Craig Meidl of the Spokane Police Department on Friday. “We are as engaged in this investigation as we have been since day one.”

Meidl said they still are awaiting results from DNA tests at the Washington State Crime Lab. He said he doesn't know why that DNA is taking longer than John Walsh's DNA sample took to process for the Patrick Gibson murder trial, but wrote that “one would also likely have to take into account current staffing levels at the DNA testing facility, backlog of current cases, types of tests to be completed, number of tests to be completed on same DNA, number of samples total to be tested.  This would just be an educated guess, as WSP has ultimate control over their schedule and how they prioritize.”

Meidl said police are intentionally not detailing all aspects of the investigation.

“We are mindful that suspects frequently watch and read the news. It would be imprudent to reveal aspects of this investigation that could potentially jeopardize the successful capture of the person involved in this,” Meidl wrote.

Sharlotte McGill, 55, died of stab wounds after she was attacked in the 1800 block of East South Riverton Avenue.

She was able to describe her attacker before she died: a black man in his 30s with a bad eye. No other details were given.

Past coverage:

May 9: Police seek public's help, but fear racial profiling

May 5: Homicide victim's daughter speaks out

May 4: Attacker fatally stabs woman

Suspect arrested in May 31 home robbery

Spokane police on Friday arrested a suspect in a May 31 gunpoint home-invasion  robbery.

David F. Smith, 40, is believed to have robbed a home in the 1600 block of West Spofford Avenue. Police say a resident was hit with a handgun, but no shots were fired.

Read the rest of my story here.

Chief OKs probe into alleged misconduct

Spokane County Jail inmate Justin Anest is pictured in 2006. He filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for a 2004 beating in the county jail. He claims to have been beaten again over the weekend in September 2006. The lawsuit was dismissed. Anest filed the complant that led to the dispute between the ombdusman and interim police chief. (SRarchives)

A disagreement between the interim Spokane police chief and the ombudsman about how a police misconduct allegation should be investigated has been resolved after witnesses came forward with new information.

A meeting scheduled last Friday between Interim Chief Scott Stephens, Ombudsman Tim Burns and Mayor David Condon never happened because Stephens informed Condon of his intention to investigate the accusation that police bruised a woman’s arms while handcuffing her at her home in early April.

Read the rest of my story here, which includes comment from the complanient, Justin Anest, and information on his background.

Spokane gang team arrests 2 fugitives

The gang team arrested two men this week in Spokane for violating their probation on violent crimes.

Christopher M. Prusch, 35, (pictured left) was booked into jail Wednesday on a Department of Corrections warrant for escape from community custody, Spokane police Officer Matt Rose said today.

His lengthy criminal history includes convictions for second-degree robbery, intimidation of a public servant and hit and run.

 A national sex offender registry website lists Prusch has having a conviction for third-degree rape in 1994, but he's no longer listed in the Spokane County sex offender registry.

Later on Wednesday, the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team also assisted Department of Corrections officers in arresting Ismael M. Tarango, 35, of Walla Walla, for a DOC escape warrant.

Tarango (pictured right) is a convicted killer with convictions for first-degree burglary and second-degree murder from the 1990s. He also was booked into jail.

Repeat offender sentenced to 4+ years

A repeat offender has been sentenced to about four years in prison for drug and property crimes.

Christopher Bruce Gooch, 35, was given an exceptionally high sentence of 50 months in prison. He's in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

A jury convicted Gooch of two counts of eluding police last month. He then pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen motor vehicle, eluding police, unlawful possession of a payment instrument and possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced May 31.

Gooch was arrested in February after a police chase while driving a stolen vehicle.

Police issued a news release today about his prison sentence that included information on a serial burglar sentenced last month to 108 months in prison. Read more about Donald Myhren here.

“These arrests and convictions are part of an extensive effort by Spokane Police to investigate property crimes and arrest the ROPs responsible for the majority of these crimes,” wrote Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Myhren was actually arrested by Spokane police last summer, well before the department announced they would only be investigating about 5 percent of property crimes. He was out of jail awaiting trial - and committing more crimes - when the Spokane County Sheriff's Office connected him and his brother to a series of burglaries.

Spokane police helped with that arrest, DeRuwe said today, which occured one day after the City of Spokane and Spokane Police Department announced a renewed focus on property crimes.

Guild using cameras as bargaining chip

If city leaders want body cameras to become a standard part of the Spokane Police Department uniform, they’ll have to first work through what the city’s top cop says could be the key hindrance: Spokane police officers.

The Spokane Police Guild is using the city’s proposal as a key bargaining chip in their latest contract negotiations, which recently began, Interim Chief Scott Stephens told the city’s Public Safety Committee this week.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 21: Law agencies see benefit of cameras

SPD ombudsman dispute going to mayor

A disagreement between the interim Spokane police chief and the police ombudsman about the handling of a recent complaint is getting the mayor’s attention.

 Ombudsman Tim Burns is asking Mayor David Condon to force the Spokane Police Department to investigate a complaint that arose when officers responded to a report of possible domestic violence at a home in the city.

Read the rest of my story here.

Store fights booze thieves w/ mace

Employees at a Spokane grocery store pepper sprayed the front doors to try to stop two suspected booze thieves from attacking them on Friday, police say.

Police say Kerry Alan Zaugg, 24, appeared to be preparing to assault an employee at Grocery Boys, 3430 N. Crestline St., with a stolen $60 bottle of Grey Goose vodka until another employee emerged from the store with a baseball bat.

Zaugg had been chased in the parking lot after running from the store with the booze.

Co-defendant Norman L. Caoile, 25, was standing nearby and told employees to let Zaugg go after he gave them back the bottle. When an employee instead called 911, Caoile tried to knock the phone from his hand, then chased the employees back to the store with a tire iron, police say.

Police arrested the men in the parking lot. Caoile told officers he was trying to defend Zaugg with the tire iron because employees were continuing to attack him even after he'd given the booze bottle back.

Friday was the first day grocery stores could sell liquor in Washington. Zaugg and Caoile appeared in Superior Court Monday on charges of first-degree robbery.

Officer saves bicyclist’s life after crash

 A police officer saved the life of a bicyclist who was hit by an SUV on Monday, officials say.

Officer Paul Carpenter responded to the crash at Park Place and Columbia Circle and found a witness trying to administer CPR to the 50-year-old man.

The witness was “relieved” at Carpenter's arrival and allowed him to continue the chest compressions.

Medics credited Carpenter “with stabilizing the man and saving his life,” according to a news release by Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

The bicyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. He also wore clip-in shoes that secured his feet to the pedals, which are used by experienced cyclists but make quick dismounts difficult.

The bicyclist remains in an intensive care unit but is expected to survive, DeRuwe said Thursday.

Police do not expect the driver of the SUV to be charged. They say speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash.

Bevy of drugs found in felon’s truck

A longtime Spokane felon who fought with police in a Browne's Addition grocery store parking lot last week had about three ounces of heroin in his vehicle, police said today.

Stephen Patrick Link, 46, pleaded not guilty today in Spokane County Superior Court to possession of methamphetamine, attempt to elude a police vehicle and two counts of third-degree assault for the May 21 incident with Sgt. Kurt Vigesaa and Officer Ron Van Tassel at Rosauers, 1800 W. 2nd Ave.

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Link with six additional drug felonies after a search of his Ford Ranger on Friday revealed the heroin, valued at $2,400, marijuana packaged for sale and four prescription drugs packaged for sale, as well as a scale and baggies.

Police also found two syringes loaded with suspected heroin.  Those drugs were found in addition to methamphetamine, more than $7,000 and 35 suspected stolen gift cards that were found on the ground next to Link the night of his arrest.

Police began pursuing Link after a homeowner in the 4800 block of North Oak Street reported a man sitting in a truck in front of his home smoking drugs. Vigesaa attempted to stop Link near North Ash Street and West Grace Avenue, but he fled and crossed the Maple Street Bridge into downtown.

Police used a PIT maneuver to stop the truck, and Link exited the vehicle and fought with Vigesaa, who said he nearly lost consciousness and didn't know what hit him after he was attacked by Link, according to court documents. Vigesaa was treated at a hospital for cut eye and a broken blood vessel. (Police released a photo of the injury today)

Link also kicked and punched Van Tassel and broke his watch, police say Backup officers arrived and Link was shocked with a Taser and taken to the ground before being handcuffed. (View a photo from the scene here.) He was taken to a hospital before being booked into jail.

Link is well known to drug detectives “who have worked previous cases involving him,” according to a news release by police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Vigesaa and Van Tassel have returned to work, DeRuwe said.

“This situation illustrates not only the dangers of police work, but how officers work together to effectively apprehend and remove a criminal suspect from the streets of Spokane.”

Link remains in the Spokane County Jail.

Robbers take over South Hill McDonald’s

Four masked robbers took over a McDonald's on the South Hill at gunpoint Friday night, and police are asking for help identifying them. 

Police today released three surveillance photos of the robbers, who accosted six people inside the restaurant at 4647 S. Regal St., just after 10 p.m.

The victims complied with demands and none was injured. The robbers, who wore black clothing, fled on foot before police arrived. 

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to arrests. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

New to Spokane, man robbed during jog

A man who arrived in Spokane about a week ago from Ethiopia was robbed while jogging on the South Hill early Sunday, police say.

The 38-year-old victim does not speak English but said he recognized the word “money” when a man approached him about 5:20 a.m. near West 8th Avenue and South Adams Street, according to court documents.

The victim said he tried to communicate with the man, but the man grabbed his necklace and acted as though he was reaching for a weapon.

The man said he feared for his life and backed up as the robber broke the necklace and stole two charms from it. The victim's friend translated his Tigrigna language to English for police.

Police spotted William C. Calamanco, 25, in the area, and the victim identified him as the robbery by his tattoos. Police say Calamanco is suspected in similar attacks. Calamanco told police the man offered his necklace in exchange for meth, but officers didn't believe him and booked him into jail for second-degree robbery.

Calamanco was out of jail awaiting trial for two felony cases. One is a vehicular assault charge for a crash Feb. 5 in which he allegedly bragged to a nurse that he was “driving really, really, really fast.” The other is a burglary case that occurred in November but wasn't solved until February.
  

Police: We saved repeat offender’s life

Spokane police say they saved the life of a career criminal and sex offender when he went into cardiac arrest after he was taken into custody Sunday.

Officer Nick Geren administered first aid on Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, while he was being transported to the jail after he was picked up the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team.

Epperson was taken to a hospital, then booked into jail on a slew of felony charges related to a home-invasion robbery and a burglary spree.

Epperson is level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. A woman who identified herself as his sister said in an email to The Spokesman-Review that he has “at least 10 kids that we know about.”

“He is a menace,” Melissa Epperson said in the email. “Please fight to keep him locked up for your community and his children.”

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County.

Investigators believe he burglarized homes of guns, electronics and jewelry to help pay a $1,000 debt to his heroin dealer. Epperson's girlfriend, Chelsey M. Loe, also is suspected in the case. Investigators searched the couple's home at 51 E. Crown on May 6 and recovered meth and suspected stolen property.

Epperson told sheriff's detectives he burglarized homes with Anthony L. Haines, who was arrested May 2 with a gun stolen in one of the burglaries, according to court documents.

Epperson was out of jail awaiting arraignment in that case when police say he helped rob residents at a home in the Indian Trail area May 22. Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Geren was awarded the Spokane Police Department's life-saving award in 2008 after he and Officer Brian Eckersley administered CPR on a woman who'd fallen unconscious in downtown Spokane.

Suspect in knife attack jailed in Idaho

A suspect has been identified in a May 1 attack that left a man with stab wounds to his chest and head in the West Garland District.

Fingerprints on a Coors Light can at the scene of the stabbing matched those of Joshua David Fleming, 31, who has been in jail in Kootenai County since May 18.

Fleming is accused of stabbing Eric Stensgar, 29, several times in the upper chest and head. Stensgar was found in alley in the 600 block of West Garland Avenue and treated at a local hospital. He told Spokane police he was drinking Coors Light and Goldschlager schnapps hard liquor when a man asked if he could drink with him.

They shared the alcohol, and Stensgar said his next memory was awaking in the alley with stab wounds. Stensgar underwent surgery at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for life threatening injuries, including a stab wound that entered his brain, according to court documents.

Prosecutors issued a $125,000 warrant for Fleming's arrest on May 21. By that time, Fleming already had been arrested on a probation violation for a grand theft conviction in Kootenai County. He waived extradition from Spokane May 18 and remains in the Kootenai County Jail.

Spokane police didn't know this when they issued a news release Tuesday calling for tips on his location.

Fleming has at least nine felony convictions in Spokane County beginning in 1996, inlcuding first-degree robbery, attempted second-degree assault, first-degree possession of stolen property, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.

Sex offender arrested in home invasion

A sex offender suspected in a violent gunpoint home-invasion robbery was arrested today.

 Joshua Clint Epperson, 32, was booked into jail on felony charges related to an early-morning attack last Tuesday in the 9600 block of North Alpine Court in the Indian Trail area.

The Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team located Epperson in the 4200 block of North Atlantic Street, Officer Brian Eckersley said in a news release.

Epperson was arrested just three weeks ago for a burglary in the Country Homes area in north Spokane County and is to be arraigned Wednesday on residential burglary, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and resisting arrest charges.

He was out of jail awaiting that arraignment when police allege he partook in the robbery, which involved the victims being bound with zip ties and one being pistol whipped.

Suspects Nathan W. Day, 21, and Nathan T. McDaniels, 28, were arrested Wednesday and remain in jail.

Epperson faces charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, possession of a stolen firearm, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of possession of a controlled substance, Eckersley said. Prosecutors filed charges on Friday.

Epperson is a level 3 sex offender, which is the classification considered most likely to reoffend. He was convicted of third-degree rape of a child in 2003. He also has a conviction for indecent liberties.

Edwards admitted ‘bad mistake’

A Spokane police officer fired for lying to a co-worker to obtain the address of a woman he met at a bar told investigators he was going through personal problems and was concerned for the woman’s safety because he’d seen her interacting with a known felon.

  Alan Edwards, who was fired in March, said he thought the woman showed interest in him as he left the Sullivan Scoreboard on Dec. 15 to give a friend a ride home. He returned to the bar about midnight and saw the woman talking to another man, whom he described “as a felon kind of bad guy.”

The release of the internal investigation into Edwards (right) comes at the same time officials say Edwards still is under a criminal investigation for his use of unlicensed bounty hunter Dennis Kariores (left) to illegally enter homes.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 2: Bounty hunter in Edwards case jailed

March 13: Listen to the call that led to Edwards' firing

Feb. 29: Spokane police officer fired after woman's complaint

Feb. 9: Fugitive bounty hunter arrested in Florida

Jan. 29: Officer's 'ruse' w/ felon led to suspension

Aug. 31: Detectives probe cop's ties to bounty hunter

Police bust burglary suspect in 4 hours

A burglary suspect was arrested within four hours thanks to an alert neighbor and quick-responding Spokane police property crimes detectives.

A resident called 911 about 11 a.m. Tuesday to report a burglary in progress in the 700 block of North Elgin Street. The neighbor described the burglary as well as a suspicious red Toyota 4Runner.

The descriptions were broadcast to officers, and property crime Detective Crystal Jolley recognized the 4Runner as matching a vehicle used by Tyler B. Morlan in a previous burglary. Jolley responded to Morlan's apartment and spotted the 4Runner.

Patrol officers stopped the vehicle as it left the apartment complex, and Morlan, whose 20th birthday is Friday, was booked into jail for residential burglary and possession of heroin about 3:15 p.m.

Police say he's been arrested at least six times since 2007. He has one felony and six gross misdemeanor convictions.

Police expect more charges to come from this invention, which is ongoing. They also predict a decrease in property crime with Morlan behind bars.
  

Car theft suspect ‘kind of figured that’

A Spokane man told of his car's stolen status after a police chase Saturday replied that he “kind of figured that,” officers say.

Tyson G. Blimka 31, is accused of fleeing police in the area of Euclid Avenue and Lee Street in a black Ford Escort with Idaho plates Saturday about 3:20 p.m. Police tried to pull him over after learning the car had been reported stolen on Friday from the 800 block of West Cleveland and likely had switched license plates.

Police pursued Blimka until the engine of the car appeared to quit and the vehicle stopped in the middle of Carlisle.

Blimka told officers he got the vehicle from a man named Brian, police say. He said he knew police were trying to stop him but that the accelerator on the car stuck, according to court documents.

Blimka was booked into jail on charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude police.
  

New details in Kala Williams homicide

A 20-year-old woman found dead of what police say was significant trauma told a confidant days before she disappeared that she was worried and concerned for her safety.

 Kala Williams got to know Erin Newberry through the Catalyst Project, an organization that helps homeless youth.

Newberry, the group's creative director, said she last saw Williams March 18 as she prepared to try to reconcile with her boyfriend.

The couple were living together in the West Central Neighborhood, but Williams had left after an argument and had been living on the street for the last three days before Newberry saw her in March, Newberry said today. Williams said she was headed back to her boyfriend's house “to make amends, because she didn't want to be out on the street.”

“She was a little bit scared,” Newberry said. “She was worried about her future.”

Williams was reported missing April 2, and her family told police she was using drugs and they were worried about her. Her body was found May 13 in an undeveloped forested area near West 14th Avenue and South Lindeke Street in Spokane.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet released her cause of death, but a search warrant filed today said her body had “obvious significant trauma.”

That search warrant was used to examine a Kyocera-brand, Cricket-service cellphone that Williams' 35-year-old boyfriend told police she used. The man said he didn't know where she'd gotten the phone and that he believed it ran out of pre-paid minutes “shortly before she disappeared,” police wrote.

Spokane police Detective Chet Gilmore obtained the phone from the man the day after Williams' body was discovered. Family members also identified it as her phone.

Gilmore hopes the phone's internal memory will reveal phone numbers, call logs and possibly text messages that could assist him in finding Williams' killer. Williams' ex-boyfriend has not been named a suspect. Court records show he has a criminal record, but only for drugs and driving convictions, not violent crimes.

Meanwhile, Newberry is grateful for the positive interactions she shared with Williams. She met Williams last October at a retreat for homeless girls. Kala underwent a makeover and posed for glamour shots that Newberry plans to give to her family.

Newberry said she feels as though she “got to know the real Kala, the Kala not clouded by darkness.”

“Often times behavior and habits are not true reflections of where the person's at in their spirit, and I really think that was the case for Kala,” Newberry said.

In an interview Friday with KHQ, Williams' father cried as he recalled happier times such as playing softball and running Bloomsday together.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Crime Check (509) 455-2233.

Okla. fugitive in Spokane prompts probe

Spokane police are investigating why an Oklahoma fugitive ended up here with a large amount of marijuana and cash.

Police on Friday obtained a search warrant for Mitchell R. Green, Jr.'s cellphone in hopes it will lead to what they suspect is a marijuana trafficking ring.

Green, 28, told U.S. Marshals he was a Crips gang member when they arrested him near East 11th Avenue and South Perry Street on April 17, according to police.

Agents here were tracking Green after he escaped from a halfway house in Oklahoma and investigators developed information he was in Spokane.

Spokane police were called to the scene to collect a large bag of marijuana that was found in Green's pants. Agents later found another bag of marijuana in his pants pocket while they were processing him at the office, then found $900 hidden in his sock. Spokane police responded to the federal office to collect the cash and additional marijuana.

Spokane police Detective Devin Presta noted numerous gang-related tattoos on Green and noted the marijuana bag found in his pants was wrapped in a blue bandanna. He said Green refused to identity what sect of Crips he's a member of, but Presta suspects the bandanna may be related to his affiliation.

Presta said Green had never been contacted here prior to April 17 and “had no apparent reason for being in Spokane,” according to the search warrant.

Jeff Harvey rehired by Spokane police

The Spokane Police Department has re-hired embattled Detective Jeff Harvey even though his lawsuit against the city remains unresolved.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Harvey’s first day back was Monday after he was fired for cause last July by then-Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

“We have new leadership in the city and police department,” Feist said, “who may look at it differently than previous leadership. We are also looking at what our legal exposure is.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 22: Charge against detective dropped

July 16: Fired detective files $10 million claim

July 15: SPD detective fired for 'troubled history'

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

Body is that of missing Spokane woman

A body found Sunday is that of a 20-year-old Spokane woman reported missing April 2.

 Police are investigating Kala Williams’ death as a homicide but declined to release further details Tuesday, citing the ongoing investigation.

Williams’ family told police she had recently been using drugs.

“They were concerned for her safety because of her lifestyle,” said Spokane police Capt. Dave Richards.

Read the rest of my story here.

Zehm lawsuit settled for $1.67 million

A $1.67 million out-of-court settlement has been reached in the civil suit against Spokane police filed by relatives of Otto Zehm, the mentally ill janitor who died following a violent confrontation with officers after being mistakenly implicated in a possible theft.

The deal also includes a formal apology by city officials, a recommendation to the Spokane Park Board to name a pavilion after Zehm, crisis intervention training for all police officers and $50,000 for a consultant to advise the city about updates to its use-of-force policy.

Read the rest of the story here.

Suspect arraigned in girl’s shooting

A man accused of a shooting in which a 6-year-old girl was injured pleaded not guilty today in Spokane County Superior Court.

 Abubakar Samura, 21, remains in jail on $500,000 bond and an immigration hold after his arraignment today before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese.

Samura turned himself in on two counts of first-degree assault April 6 for the March 4 shooting near a home in the 1800 block of East Fourth Avenue.

Matthew W. Woods, 23, was shot in the legs and back, and the girl was shot in a foot while she was inside the home. Spokane police say Woods was at the home with a friend 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.

A confrontation ensued, and Samura shot Woods in the leg, then fired several more times as Woods ran to a nearby home, police say. Three witnesses granted anonymity by police identified Samura as the gunman.

The case originally was charged in Spokane County District Court, then transferred to Superior Court April 30. Samura is represented by Chris Phelps.

City worker helps nab theft suspect

A city water department employee led police to two burglary suspects recently when he took a cellphone photo of the license plate of a suspicious vehicle.

Lawrence Tieken saw the 1995 Ford flat-bed truck parked at a City of Spokane pump house at North Havana Street and East Wellesley Avenue last Monday, then observed a younger man and woman exit the roof access of the pump house.

Thousands of dollars in copper wire was missing from the pump house.

Tieken took photos of the culprits, but they covered their faces just in time. But he was able to photograph the truck's rear license plate.

Police identified the truck's owner, and the Patrol Anti-Crime Team identified Cody A. Cabo, 19, as an associate.

Cabo was contacted Wednesday in the 3900 block of North Market Street after citizens reported a man on drugs. He admitted to the burglary, according to court documents, and said “Hillyard girl” named Nicky told him the pump house was filled with metal and copper, which can be sold at recycling centers.

Cabo faces charges of second-degree burglary and malicious mischief.

Gonzaga students attacked, robbed

A Gonzaga University graduate student was beaten unconscious when he tried to stop two women from stealing his friend’s purse early Thursday.

Spokane police tracked the suspects using a GPS program in an iPhone stolen from the victims.

Arrested were Tayone D. Akers, 20, (pictured) Anthony J. Walker, 20, and Ronald R. Scott, 18, and two 16-year-old girls.

Read the rest of my story here.

Murder investigation ‘ongoing, dynamic’

Spokane police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe briefed reporters today on the search for Sharlotte McGill's killer.

“It's really very, very fluid and so there's not an hour-by-hour update that I can provide,” said DeRuwe, police spokeswoman. “I just have to trust that the community will trust me when saying we're doing our very best. It's the top priority for us.”

DeRuwe reminded people to be aware of their surroundings and trust their instincts.

“I hate to think that people aren't comfortable to go walk on the trails, but I understand why they are,” DeRuwe said.

Police continue to compile names of people who could possibly be suspects based on the McGill's description of her killer.

“This is really an ongoing, dynamic investigation,” DeRuwe said. “So while names come in, names go out. people are excluded. people are included. You have patrol officers contacting people; detectives talking to people.”

“As soon as I have information, I will push it out,” she said.

McGill was fatally stabbed to death one week ago today as she walked her dog along the Spokane River in the 1800 block of East South Riverton.

She was able to describe her attacker before she died: a black man in his 30s with a bad eye. No other details were given.

Police said Wednesday that they believe a tip from the community will help them find the killer, but they're urging against racial profiling.

Past coverage:

May 5: Homicide victim's daughter speaks out

May 4: Attacker fatally stabs woman

Man arrested for grocery store robberies

A man suspected of robbing four grocery stores in Spokane County was arrested Wednesday. 

Daniel W. Drake, 38, reportedly admitted to robbing three Safeway stores and one Rosauers store in Spokane and Spokane Valley recently, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Drake is allegedly pictured fleeing the Safeway store on Wellesley Avenue after a robbery Monday.

Detectives received tips that helped them identify Drake within hours of the Sheriff's Office releasing that surveillance photo and others Tuesday.

Court documents show Drake's sister, father and mother told police they were positive the man pictured was Drake.

The Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team assisted detectives from both agencies in locating Drake. They found him at a motel after nine hours of surveillance, then arrested him in the area of Argonne Road and Montgomery Avenue without incident.

Drake is accused of robbing Safeway at 14020 E. Sprague Ave., in Spokane Valley May 2, as well as the Shadle Park Safeway, 2507 W. Wellesley Ave., May 7.

The other robberies occurred April 29 at Safeway at 933 E. Mission Ave. in Spokane and the Rosaurers at 2610 E. 29th Ave. on May 7 about 2:30 p.m., just two hours before the Shadle Park robbery. No money was actually stolen in the Rosaurers case.

Drake is to appear in Spokane County Superior Court via video from the jail, where he's booked on four counts of second-degree robbery.

“The Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit has recently assigned a detective to investigate all robbery reports that are taken,” sheriff's spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said in a news release. “The ability to assign a lead detective to these crimes has been, and will continue to be, imperative in solving these types of crimes and ensuring the safety of the citizens of Spokane County.”

Police continue homicide investigation

Police believe a tip from a community member will help them find the man who killed a woman along the Spokane River last week, but they’re urging people to use common sense and avoid racial profiling.

“Based on the description we do have from the victim herself … clearly this was a black male,” said Spokane police Major Craig Meidl. “We do have to look at the specific demographics given to us by the victim, but that does not by any means indicate everyone within those demographics is a criminal.”

Meidl briefed reporters on the status of the murder investigation Wednesday, nearly one week after Sharlotte McGill, 55, was fatally stabbed while walking her dog along the Spokane River in the 1800 block of East South Riverton. Police believe the attack was random.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

May 5: Homicide victim's daughter speaks out

May 4: Attacker fatally stabs woman