Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 30° Cloudy
News >  Spokane

Quick-thinking citizens earn police chief’s plaudits

Awards recognize help with thieves, standoff

Dillon Fabie, 21, was honored by the Spokane Police Department for chasing down a suspected purse snatcher at a Spokane Walmart. (Colin Mulvany)
Dillon Fabie, 21, was honored by the Spokane Police Department for chasing down a suspected purse snatcher at a Spokane Walmart. (Colin Mulvany)

For Dillon Fabie, there was no decision to be made. Just an adrenaline rush and a quick sprint across a parking lot and there he was, restraining a suspected purse thief as police arrived.

“Instincts took over,” Fabie, 21, said Monday as he recalled taking the man to the ground in the north Spokane Walmart supercenter parking lot last November. “The next thing I know I’m all the way back here holding the guy.”

Fabie was among Spokane residents honored by police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick before the Spokane City Council on Monday. The Whitworth University student received the Chief’s Citizen Award, along with Karl Erbacher, who also is credited with stopping a purse-snatching suspect last fall.

Erbacher was walking in the parking lot of Safeway, 1616 W. Northwest Blvd., about 6:15 p.m. Oct. 20 and heard an elderly woman yell for help because her purse had been stolen.

Erbacher tackled Jason A. Williams in the middle of Maple Street just south of Jackson, but the suspect took off running and was detained by a sheriff’s deputy. Williams, 21, is to stand trial in August for second-degree robbery.

Two weeks later, on Nov. 5, Fabie was in the checkout line at Walmart on North Colton when heard a woman yelling that someone had stolen her purse out of her shopping cart. Fabie dropped his stack of movies and took Jesse R. Smith down in the parking lot.

Smith, 32, dropped the purse and pleaded with Fabie to let him go.

“I said ‘No deal,’ ” Fabie recalled. “Don’t do the crime if you don’t want to get caught.”

Smith pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge and was credited last December with 27 days served in jail. He returned to jail this weekend on unrelated drug and driving with a suspended license charges.

Fabie, of Port Orchard, Wash., said his mother worried that he could have been hurt while tangling with the suspect, but he’s happy he helped.

“I don’t regret it for a second,” he said.

Police say Williams’ and Smith’s arrests hinged on Erbacher’s and Fabie’s quick interventions.

Also honored Monday were Lois Bresnahan and Bo Donohue, who allowed Spokane police inside their homes during a SWAT team standoff in April with a domestic violence suspect.

Sgt. Martin Anderson said in a nominating letter that Bresnahan and Donohue “made this very dangerous situation safer for the officers involved.”

Police had arrived at a home near Bresnahan’s and Donohue’s residences in the area of 5000 North Forest Boulevard to find James M. Vandyke holding his wife and a gun. He allowed his wife to leave but refused to drop the gun.

A standoff lasted several hours before the SWAT team used pepper spray to force Vandyke from the home. They found two loaded handguns and a loaded assault rifle in the living room and say Vandyke had made statements about “shooting it out with police” and “suicide by cop.” He later pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was credited for three days served in jail.

Bresnahan brought water and coffee to police and volunteers during the April 9 standoff. She also allowed them into her home and allowed them to use her backyard and fence, “which allowed them to do their job in a much safer manner” Anderson said in his letter.

The Donohues also allowed police into their home and were “extremely supportive.”

“Those of us involved in law enforcement are unfortunately used to the small minority of citizens that constantly criticize and seldom support the actions of their police,” Anderson wrote. “The actions of Ms. Lois Bresnahan and the Donohue family reaffirm that most citizens truly care and support us.”

City Council President Joe Shogan said he also lives in the area of the standoff.

“I appreciate what my neighbors did,” Shogan said. “It could have been pretty bad.”

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 to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.