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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Veteran chases down, detains burglary suspect

Heather and Jared Martin stand next to their West Central neighborhood garage where a burglar broke in twice this week. (Colin Mulvany)
Heather and Jared Martin stand next to their West Central neighborhood garage where a burglar broke in twice this week. (Colin Mulvany)

As concealed weapons permit holders, Jared and Heather Martin regularly talk to their 12-year-old daughter about gun safety and responsibility.

They have already started using Tuesday morning as their prime example.

Jared Martin, a National Guardsman who served in Iraq and Kuwait, had his gun in hand as he chased a suspected burglar from a fence line near the couple’s West Knox Court property, caught the man a few blocks away and held onto him until police arrived.

“I thought for a second about shooting,” Martin said. “But he was in someone else’s property and the backdrop was a house.”

The Martins said they also talked to their daughter about the March incident in which Spokane resident Gail Gerlach shot and killed fleeing car thief Brendon Kaluza-Graham. The Spokane County prosecutor’s office has not yet released a decision on whether to press charges against Gerlach, who told police he feared for his life when he fired his weapon.

Heather Martin said the kind of gun control that matters most is “knowing how and when to use it and why.”

After finding their garage had been broken into Monday morning, the Martins woke up around 3 a.m. Tuesday to again find their property disturbed.

Martin said he isn’t sure what woke him up, but he grabbed his gun and walked outside to see a bicycle leaned up against his fence and a backpack hanging from the handlebars. He recognized the bag; it had been stolen from his garage the night before.

He went inside to call Crime Check and update their report from the previous night’s burglary before his curiosity nagged him to go back outside.

That’s when he saw the man, who police later identified as 21-year-old Christopher Tremain, on the other side of the fence.

Heather Martin heard the two men from where she stood on the steps to the house.

“My husband said, ‘You scared the crap out of me!’ and the guy said, ‘No, you scared the crap out of me!’ ” she said.

Jared Martin said he raised his 9 mm handgun, pointed it at the man and ordered him to come closer into the garage light.

“At that time he said, ‘No, I can’t go back to jail’ ” and took off running, Martin said.

Martin chased him out of their cul-de-sac and onto North Hemlock Street.

“There’s no way I (was going) to let him get away,” Martin said.

Wearing only flip-flops and shorts, Martin chased Tremain until he grabbed him by his sweatshirt hood and yanked him to the ground.

Martin dragged him by the sweatshirt back to his house, where his wife had already called 911. He sat Tremain on the ground outside, still holding his gun at his side, until police arrived minutes later. He said Tremain continued to plead for release. It took a handful of officers to wrestle Tremain into handcuffs, the Martins said.

He was arrested on two counts of burglary, accounting for two nights of thefts, a police spokeswoman said.

The Martins found some of their property in the bag hooked to the bicycle, which they identified as a neighbor’s recently stolen bike.

They are still missing about $1,200 worth of tools and motorcycle gear from the break-in the night before, and other neighbors reported items missing as well.

The Martins aren’t expecting to get much of their stuff back but said they are counting their blessings no one was hurt.

“I’m just incredibly proud of my husband,” Heather Martin said.

Jared Martin said despite his training, he was still nervous that he would accidentally shoot Tremain. At one point at the beginning of the chase, he cocked the gun hoping the sound would make Tremain stop running.

“I don’t think burglary necessitates shooting,” Martin said, adding that the situation would have been different had Tremain come into their home or acted aggressively. Police did find knives on Tremain when he was arrested, the police spokeswoman said, but Martin said he never saw any weapon.

His biggest regret: “I think next time I’ll have a pair of shoes by the door.”

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