Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 35° Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Man found dead in small-engine repair shop

Thomas Clouse Staff writer

The discovery of a lifeless body inside a small-engine repair shop Monday led Spokane Police to a pair of stolen motorcycles and what officers feared was an explosive device.

Detectives called in the bomb squad, which determined the package in a plastic suitcase was not dangerous. But their examination delayed for hours the investigation into the death and search for property that may be stolen, Sgt. Jason Hartman said.

It all started about 1 a.m. Monday when police got a call about a body in the building at 2704 N. Hogan, No. 9. Police arrived and found the man dead. It appears the man died from carbon monoxide poisoning, but the death remains under investigation, Hartman said.

The business owner, Reynaldo “Junior” Zavala, identified the dead man as Robert “Divo” Montoya, who had been running a generator inside the business where he was sleeping.

Montoya, who was in his early 20s, had been doing odd jobs at Junior’s Small Engine Repair Shop and occasionally slept inside the business, Zavala said. The electricity had been turned off because Zavala is closing the business at the end of the month, he said.

Montoya stopped by from time to time to clean the shop to earn some extra cash, Zavala said. The last time was Friday, when Montoya came by and asked to stay at the business, Zavala said.

“We’ve known him for about a year,” said 22-year-old Karla Espinoza, who is Zavala’s girlfriend. “We wouldn’t see him for two or three weeks and then he would come back again.”

Zavala said he checked on Montoya on Saturday. He didn’t hear anything and assumed that Montoya had left.

Zavala then went to the business at about midnight Sunday to prepare it for opening on Monday, he said.

“I saw him, but it was kind of dark,” Zavala said. “I said, ‘Divo. Get up.’ He didn’t get up, so I went to call 911.”

Spokane police had asked both Espinoza and Zavala to remain at the scene as they processed it. Asked why, Espinoza said police found two stolen motorcycles that she said didn’t belong to Zavala.

“If anybody needs anything, I was there for anybody,” Zavala said. “Some people would take advantage of me. Others would help me out.”

Hartman said police have received several complaints about stolen property being brought in and out of the business, which has no sign indicating it’s a repair shop. However, police had not yet had enough information to apply for a search warrant until Monday morning.

“Indications are at this point that it was an accidental death,” Hartman said. “But while that was being investigated, they found two stolen motorcycles.”

The officers then obtained a search warrant Monday morning to recover the motorcycles and search for other stolen property. Inside they found numerous engines and car parts, Hartman said.

Detectives called the Washington State Patrol to help search vehicle identification numbers. Results of those searches were not yet available, he said.

“The business on its face is basically an engine repair business,” Hartman said. “But inside we found a couple stolen motorcycles and other items that don’t necessarily fit in with that type of business.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.