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

Intruders hunting valuables, police say

Second suspect arrested in Monday incident

Meghann M. Cuniff Staff writer

They thought they were in for big money. Instead, one landed in a hospital with gunshot wounds to the stomach and another was arrested after more than a day on the lam.

That’s what a Spokane police detective investigating a home invasion robbery in southeast Spokane believes happened when two men barged into a home occupied by three college students early Monday.

“I don’t think it was random, but I also don’t think that the suspects knew the victims,” said Detective John Miller. “I think these people thought there might be more valuables in the house than there actually were.”

One of the suspects, Thomas A. Butler, 25, remained in critical condition Tuesday in a Spokane hospital after being shot by a man living at the home.

The second suspect, Derick D. Taylor, 29, was arrested Tuesday afternoon at a North Cochran Street home.

The botched robbery started as what police say was an early-morning invasion hatched by two men with extensive criminal histories and an inflated impression of what they’d find inside the home in the 4100 block of East 16th Avenue.

The home is rented by three seniors at Eastern Washington University, all in their early 20s, and none with criminal records, Miller said.

“They work and have nice things,” he said.

Miller wouldn’t say how exactly Taylor and Butler knew of the home, other than that “they thought that it would be financially beneficial for them to hit it.”

“I don’t want to label it as a drug home, because it wasn’t,” he said. “The victims didn’t even know these guys.”

In 2002, Butler was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for a bank robbery that resulted in federal charges against a California gang member who worked with Butler and another man, according to previously public reports.

It’s unclear how long Butler was in prison in connection with the bank robbery. But records show he was sentenced in Kootenai County in early March to 10 days in jail or 32 hours in a county work program on one count of frequenting a home where a controlled substance is used.

Taylor, the other suspect, has criminal convictions dating back to 1996 in Pierce County, including charges of second-degree theft, third-degree assault, attempting to elude, and several drug charges. He served 10 days in jail in December after pleading guilty to escape from community custody, records show.

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at