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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man shot after barricading himself in room as Spokane Valley motel burned

From staff reports

A man who refused to leave a Spokane Valley motel after he allegedly set fire to it was shot by deputies early Wednesday as they tried to get him to leave.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich characterized the incident as an attempt at suicide by cop.

Firefighters were called to Motel 6, 1919 N. Hutchinson Road, at 3:45 a.m., said Spokane Valley Fire Capt. Craig Warzon.

While most of the building evacuated, one man, who was armed with a knife, refused to come out of his room, Knezovich said.

Deputies were told about the man when they arrived on scene, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. Heavy smoke already was coming from the hotel. When they first encountered him on the second floor, he told deputies he wouldn’t leave and that they would have to shoot him, the news release said.

The fire is believed to have started in the man’s room, Knezovich said.

“He eventually came out and went toward a deputy with a knife in his hand,” Knezovich said.

He threatened deputies with a knife as he walked down the stairs to the first floor and was shot soon after, the news release said.

Multiple deputies shot at the man, who was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and was in surgery Wednesday morning, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Gregory said.

Guests staying at the hotel described a hectic scene Wednesday morning as they evacuated their rooms in the middle of the night.

“I initially thought some kid was running around pulling alarms,” said Michael Mundorff, who was staying in Room 107, which is almost directly under where the fire originated.

Mundorff said as he and about 25 others were standing outside and watching the flames billowing from the second-floor window, they heard a loud noise, like firecrackers, coming from the motel.

“I heard a pop, pop, pop,” he said. “I knew something was going on.”

Hotel guests Kaity Theirl and her boyfriend, Troy White, woke up at about 3:30 a.m. to a blaring fire alarm. The couple went out to their car, where it was warm, when they heard gunfire.

“That freaked me out a bit,” Theirl said. “It’s a fire, why are there gunshots?”

They said they saw a middle-age, heavyset man who looked to be in his 40s or 50s being wheeled out on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance. Mundorff said he saw the same thing and assumed the man was dead.

Theirl, who said she had her wallet and clothes still in the room, was wrapped in a blanket to keep warm. She said officials indicated it could take a few hours “or up until the end of the day” before she could return to her room.

“We were supposed to leave 20 minutes ago,” she said at about 8 a.m. “But now we’re stuck here.”

Firefighters were delayed in starting to battle the fire as a result of the man.

Knezovich said all other motel guests evacuated safely.

Crews from the Spokane Fire Department and Spokane County Fire Districts 8 and 9 joined Spokane Valley firefighters at the scene, Warzon said. No firefighters were injured.

Jonathan Brunt contributed to this report.