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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man killed in police shootout identified

Carley Dryden Staff writer

The robbery suspect killed during a shootout with deputies in North Idaho was identified Tuesday as 49-year-old Mark Eric Betts, of Hope, Idaho.

Betts exchanged gunfire with Bonner County sheriff’s deputies Monday after allegedly shoplifting from a state liquor store in the Bonner Mall north of Sandpoint.

He took three bottles of alcohol worth less than $40 total, said Dyke Nally, superintendent of the Idaho State Liquor Dispensary. After allegedly seeing Betts take the liquor, the store clerk followed him out of the store and asked if he would like to pay for the alcohol, Nally said. Betts allegedly held up a small wooden club and asked the clerk, “Would you like some of this?”

“The clerk is trained to not get involved in any confrontation, so the clerk turned, went back into the store, got the license plate number and called police,” Nally said. The incident was “more of a shoplifting thing on our end where we confronted him and then walked away, not a big liquor store hold-up,” he added.

Betts drove north on Highway 95, evading spike strips deployed by the Ponderay Police Department. Bonner County sheriff’s deputies joined the pursuit, which ended when Betts’ vehicle and a patrol truck landed in a ditch on the north side of Colburn Culver Road. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Betts displayed a handgun out of the passenger side of his vehicle and exchanged shots with deputies. The Sheriff’s Department said one deputy “received what appears to be a near miss (shot) through his shirt collar,” but no deputies were injured.

Idaho State Police was still investigating Tuesday.