A man terrorized drivers in the Spokane Valley on Wednesday afternoon, circling cars at high speeds in his red Mustang, cutting them off, and threatening to kill at least one driver before begging to be killed himself.
Fearing for his life, the frightened driver of a blue Toyota 4-Runner pulled out a handgun and fired it above the man’s head to scare him away. The blast at point-blank range knocked the suspect to the ground, but didn’t injure him. He drove off, only to return a few minutes later to throw a crowbar at the Toyota.
Post Falls police and a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy arrested Anthony Wayne Sotin, 28, at a crowded Post Falls gas station about 4 p.m. Sotin was using the business’ coin-operated vacuum to clean his car.
“He was not going quietly,” said Michelle Stone, a clerk at the BP gas station who saw police wrestle Sotin to the ground.
As he was being arrested, Sotin insisted he was the victim.
“Somebody took a shot at me,” he said. “I want to know why I’m in handcuffs.”
Sheriff’s department officials said they have no idea what set Sotin off Wednesday afternoon. He does have a long history of bad behavior, including more than 30 convictions for crimes including arson, theft, assault and escape.
Authorities also are unsure exactly when Wednesday’s rampage began. Earlier in the afternoon, Sotin apparently threw a pop can at a car while passing it on the right on East Wellesley. He then parked in a nearby car wash. When the driver of the pop-covered car approached Sotin to confront him about the can, Sotin punched him in the left eye, splitting his eyebrow, witnesses told deputies.
“He was totally whacked out,” said Derek Colosimo, as he dabbed his bleeding brow.
Sotin then sped east on Wellesley and came up behind Scott Maclay in his Toyota 4-Runner, Maclay said later.
“He was approaching me at a very high speed. I knew he couldn’t stop,” Maclay said.
Maclay tried to get out of the way, but said Sotin turned sideways after passing him, cutting him off.
“He started to run toward me screaming he was going to kill me,” said Maclay, who pulled out his Colt .45 and began loading it.
He said he told Sotin to get back, and when he didn’t, Maclay fired a round above the man’s head.
“It was point-blank range,” Maclay said. “He fell down.”
Sotin then got up and sped off, only to stop down the road and pull a crowbar out of his trunk, witnesses told deputies. He drove back and threw it at Maclay’s car, denting the hood.
Sotin then drove at high speeds up and down the road, doing circles and brodies and frightening other drivers, deputies said.
Jennifer Kline, a Spokane County animal control officer, was one of the drivers who found herself caught up in the incident. Kline had just picked up her 6-year-old son, Timmy, from day care and was driving home.
“It was just insane. He started chasing me and my truck,” said the terrified Kline, who told her son to lie down on the back seat while she called 911. “He was after anyone who was in his way.”
When Maclay pulled into a nearby driveway, he said Sotin pulled in behind him.
“He was screaming, ‘Kill me! Kill me!’ He was begging,” Maclay said. “I didn’t want to kill him.” Sotin then drove off toward the Idaho state line.
Sheriff’s officials asked Kline to follow the red Mustang and keep them informed of its location. She reluctantly agreed. Police found Sotin at the BP gas station on the corner of Spokane Street and Seltice Way in Post Falls and arrested him at gunpoint.
A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy later seized the vacuum bag as evidence.
Sotin complained of chest pains and was taken to Kootenai Medical Center before being booked into the Kootenai County Jail, said Post Falls police Sgt. Kelly Willoth.
Before being loaded into the ambulance, Sotin angrily pleaded his case while he squirmed in the back of a police car. He claimed Maclay had shot out his Mustang’s back window.
Sheriff’s Department officials said the window was already shot out when Sotin punched Colosimo at the carwash. They aren’t sure how it was broken.
Sotin was arrested for being a fugitive in Idaho and was held in the Kootenai County Jail overnight. Spokane County officials plan to charge him with second-degree malicious mischief when he is returned to Washington.
Maclay, who said he has a concealed weapons permit, was not arrested for firing above Sotin’s head. He was allowed to keep his gun.
He still isn’t sure what to make of the strange incident.
“I’d never seen him before, never met him,” he said.
Kline said she was just thankful no one got hurt.
“He was on a suicide mission,” said the animal control officer. “I’m just glad to be alive.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Photos (2 color)
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