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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Deputies recovering as shooting probe continues

Deputies Matt Spink and Michael Northway (Spokane County Sheriff's Office)
Deputies Matt Spink and Michael Northway (Spokane County Sheriff's Office)

Two sheriff’s deputies shot by a fugitive heroin trafficking suspect last week continue to recover as detectives continue to investigate the crime spree that ended in the shooter’s suicide.

Deputy Matt Spink, who was shot once in his leg, was released on Friday. Deputy Mike Northway, who was shot four times in his arms and legs, remains in the hospital but has been released from the intensive care unit and has walked around a couple times.

“There’s even been some talk about a hospital discharge date,” said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Spink, 45, and Northway, 42, were shot by Charles Robert Wallace, 41, last Tuesday after the deputies, who were in separate patrol cars, stopped a Chevrolet Tahoe at Elm Road and North Newport Highway at the request of drug task force members.

Drug detectives had been looking for Wallace, who was facing a federal grand jury indictment for a heroin trafficking ring, after he left court-ordered drug treatment. They’d followed the Tahoe and another SUV driven by Robert Lee Ruth, 41, from Ruth’s family’s property on Alcan Road.

Court documents say detectives weren’t sure Wallace was in the Tahoe, so they asked Spink and Northway to identify its three occupants. They had just stopped the SUV when Wallace, disguised in a cap with a mullet-style wig, jumped out and open fire.

Ruth has been jailed on a first-degree rendering criminal assistance charge. He used to live in a house at 903 E. Providence Ave., owned by Spokane police Officer Beau Brannon.

Brannon called Ruth after Spink and Northway were shot and told them Wallace had shot them, but he said Ruth lied to him about not having seen Wallace, then hung up and refused to answer repeat calls.

According to new information released today, Spokane police Detective Tim Madsen also was fired upon by Wallace but was not shot. That occurred about 45 minutes after Spink and Northway were shot when Madsen spotted Wallace driving the Honda Accord he’d stolen from an 87-year-old woman.

Wallace pointed his handgun, which officials say was stolen in a car prowling in Liberty Lake, out the window and fired at Madsen before the pursuit continue north on Newport Highway to Deer Park.

Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Dutton struck Wallace’s car at Highway 2 and Deer Park-Milan Road to try to stop it, but Wallace recovered. As Wallace approached Deer Park, sheriff’s Detective Shane McClary fired several rounds from his gun at Wallace. Wallace continue west toward state Route 395, where he crashed into Spokane police Officer Ryan Snider’s unoccupied patrol car, then a guard rail.

Officers saw Wallace trying to get out of the car as they approached but say he shot himself within seconds and was pronounced dead.

Northway started work at the Sheriff’s Office as corrections deputy in 1996 before beginning patrol 1999. Spink joined the agency in 1999.

Staff writer Jody Lawrence-Turner contributed to this report.

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