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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Police believe drug theft led to shooting in Hillyard; teen shot 4 times

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 24, 2018, 10:58 a.m.

A shooting in Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood left a teenager badly injured late Sunday, and the suspect told police it started with a duffel bag full of marijuana, according to court records.

Steven R. Smethurst, 33, initially claimed he and a female friend had been assaulted outside his house while trying to buy cannabis oil, but later admitted he had opened fire on several males who had barged into the residence at 4211 E. Longfellow Ave., according to court records.

Smethurst told police he had purchased the bag of pot earlier in the day and was selling it out of his house, according to court records. He said a man and a woman arrived, apparently wanting to buy from him, and the woman claimed she had forgotten her wallet in her car.

Shortly after the pair went outside, the intruders came in and started beating people with baseball bats and other blunt weapons, Smethurst said, according to court records. Then they stole the bag of pot and ran away, he said.

Smethurst’s lip was split open and required stitches, and his friend was struck in the head. Both were treated at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, according to court records.

Surveillance video from a neighboring home shows four males running from Smethurst’s house, followed roughly 10 seconds later by a man, identified as Smethurst, who appears to fire about 10 shots from a handgun.

Neighbors reported the shooting shortly after 11 p.m. Officers found blood on the front porch of Smethurst’s house, along with a knife on the ground and a bullet on the sidewalk, according to court records.

The officers also found marijuana nearby, “strewn all across” a section of North Florida Street. They breached the door and detained Smethurst and his friend after knocks and verbal commands went unanswered, according to court records.

At about the same time, other officers responded to the O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 3125 E. Francis Ave., where they found several people standing around a black Chrysler sedan in the parking lot.

Xavier V. Lasarte, 17, was lying in the back seat, bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound on his thigh. According to court records, he had been shot four times. After being treated at the scene, he was taken to Sacred Heart, where a detective later interviewed him.

According to court records, Lasarte admitted he had gone to Smethurst’s house to buy marijuana but suggested the shooting was unprompted. He said it was the first time he had been to the house. Then his parents, who were in the hospital room, invoked his rights and cut off the interview, according to court records.

A hospital spokeswoman said Monday afternoon that no information on Lasarte’s condition was available.

Detective Randy Lesser wrote in court documents that Smethurst had been the target of a drug theft carried out by Lasarte and four other suspects.

“I decided that I was not going to arrest them initially and that I was going to conduct further follow-up investigation before charging them,” Lesser wrote.

After his mouth was stitched up at the hospital, Smethurst was interviewed again. According to court records, he apologized for the shooting, which he called a “natural reaction” to the assault by the other males.

Smethurst faces five counts of first-degree assault and at least one count of drug possession for a bag of heroin that was found in his pocket. Police also found a 9 mm handgun and ammunition in his house, although he is not supposed to have firearms because of a prior felony conviction.

Correction: This story was changed on Jan. 24, 2018. A previous version contained an incorrect street address for Steven Smethurst.

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