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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Driver flees after crashing car into Life Center church building

From Staff Reports

Spokane police responded early Tuesday morning to a car that crashed through the wall of a church in northwest Spokane. The driver fled the scene on foot and has not been found.

Shortly before 4 a.m., police arrived at Life Center Foursquare Church at 1202 W. Government Way to find a Toyota station wagon had jumped the curb and crashed through the north wall of the church and onto the main stage of the auditorium, according to a news release.

Police have not arrested anyone, though detectives have identified a person of interest in the incident, according to the release. The car does not appear to be stolen.

There is no evidence to indicate the incident was a hate crime, the release said.

Despite the extensive damage to the church, Administrative Pastor Blake Folden said the congregation is praying for the driver of the vehicle.

“We wouldn’t ask for this, but it could be somebody who is just hurting so bad,” Folden said.

“It could be someone with mental health disorders or alcohol problems.”

Folden said insurance will cover the damage to the church and equipment that was destroyed. Folden said the church hasn’t canceled any activities and will be ready for services on Sunday.

Suspect in car theft arrested after fleeing custody, police say

A Spokane car thief released from jail last month was arrested over the weekend after allegedly stealing again, then breaking out of police custody.

Ryan Bronowski, 24, is being held in the Spokane County Jail on $30,000 bond after investigators say he broke into a 2001 Mitsubishi Galant and dragged the female owner, clinging to the side of the vehicle, 60 feet in the Lidgerwood neighborhood Thursday. Police found Bronowski and Alexander Powers, 20, squatting inside a vacant home near where the car was stolen. Bronowski was identified as a suspect and taken into custody.

When detectives left the room where Bronowski was questioned last week, the 24-year-old broke free of his handcuffs and fled the building where he was being held, according to court records. Bronowski was picked up and booked into jail late Saturday on charges of car theft, robbery, burglary and escaping police custody, according to jail records.

Bronowski pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to the September theft of a 2004 Honda Accord. A judge gave him credit for 16 days served in jail.

CdA board picks interim chief as permanent superintendent

The Coeur d’Alene School Board will forgo a superintendent search and enter into contract negotiations to make interim Superintendent Matthew Handelman’s position permanent.

Handelman began a one-year contract on July 1, after Superintendent Hazel Bauman resigned to work for the Central Kitsap School District in Western Washington.

Handelman was hired as associate superintendent in summer 2010 and also served as the Coeur d’Alene district’s elementary director and curriculum director. Previously, he was principal of Moran Prairie Elementary School in Spokane for nine years.

“Our district has gone through a phenomenal amount of change in a short period of time,” School Board Trustee Christa Hazel said in a news release Monday night. “Matt is well regarded in our community and is the constant we need at the helm of our district.”

Board Chairman Tom Hearn added, “We don’t need to look elsewhere. We need a steady hand, and Mr. Handelman provides expertise and work ethic to lead this district.”

Women Helping Women lunch will feature ‘Happyness’ author

Christopher Gardner, the author of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” was announced Tuesday as the keynote speaker at the Women Helping Women Fund luncheon in May.

Gardner will be the first male speaker in the luncheon’s 22-year run, the group said in a news release.

His autobiography was made into a movie starring Will Smith and was a New York Times best-seller.

The Women Helping Women Fund has raised more than $6 million since 1992 for programs that help women and children.

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