The victim of Wednesday’s fatal shooting in downtown Spokane has been identified as Eddie Daniels III, a 15-year-old student at Lewis and Clark High School.
The shooting, which was captured on surveillance video, happened at about 5:30 p.m. near Main Avenue and Washington Street after what police describe as a dispute over a marijuana pipe involving several people.
The suspected shooter, Joel C. Taitch, 27, was arrested shortly after the incident in his mother’s apartment building on Spokane Falls Boulevard. He appeared in Spokane County District Court on Thursday on a second-degree murder charge.
Spokane Public Schools spokesman Brian Coddington said counselors were at Lewis and Clark on Thursday to speak with students affected by Daniels’ death. The counselors will be there Friday as well, and parents were notified of the situation, Coddington said.
As of Thursday evening, a GoFundMe.com campaign to cover Daniels’ funeral expenses had raised more than $2,700 toward a $10,000 goal. A candlelight vigil and benefit concert was scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at 115 E. Pacific Ave.
Court records filed Thursday identify Daniels and several other minors only by their initials. The records state that Taitch approached a group of people, including Daniels, who were hanging out near the Bank of America building on Riverside Avenue and offered to sell them a glass marijuana pipe for $5.
Taitch, who was accompanied by an unidentified friend, allowed one member of the group to look at the pipe, and an argument ensued when that person refused to give it back, the records state. Others in the group told police that Taitch began reaching into his backpack as if he had a weapon.
Some of the boys briefly chased Taitch and his friend but stopped when Taitch pulled out a gun, the records state. At one point, Taitch’s phone charger fell from his backpack, and a youth around 12 years old picked it up and threw it at him.
A short time later, two younger boys told the older boys in the group that Taitch had threatened them with the gun, the records state. The older boys began chasing Taitch again.
Uninvolved witnesses told police that they saw two or three males running after Taitch before he turned and fired two shots, hitting Daniels in the neck area and causing him to immediately fall to the ground.
One of the boys who had confronted Taitch “described the defendant as waiting behind a car when he shot the victim as if he was waiting for him,” the records state. A detective wrote that surveillance video from a building near Main and Washington showed Taitch “running north on the sidewalk with his arm pointed behind him as if he was shooting.”
After the shooting, Taitch fled to the Park Tower Apartments on Spokane Falls Boulevard, the records state. His mother lives there, but at the time she was out to dinner with another son. Taitch begged some other occupants of the building to let him in, saying it was an emergency, the records state.
Police found him in his mother’s apartment and arrested him peacefully, the records state. In the living room, a detective found Taitch’s black jacket, gray shoes and camouflage backpack that witnesses had described. The detective also found the .22-caliber pistol that Taitch’s late father had given him, and a note addressed to “Mom” that included the phrases “robbed me” and “I shot him twice while running away,” the records state.
Taitch appears to have had no prior run-ins with the law except for some reckless driving charges in 2009 and 2012, all of which were dismissed. His Facebook page says he, too, attended Lewis and Clark High School and later Spokane Community College.
Taitch appeared in court by video feed Thursday afternoon. Wearing a yellow jail shirt and sitting beside his attorney, he often looked downward and sounded emotional as he gave brief answers about his living situation.
A prosecutor, arguing to keep Taitch in jail in lieu of a $200,000 bond, told Judge Patti Walker that he had put more than one life in danger by firing a gun in public.
“This is an extremely serious offense happening in downtown Spokane, out in public, involving a firearm and a young child,” the prosecutor said.
Though court records describe Taitch as transient, he told the judge that he has lived with and cared for his mother. He said he receives food stamps and has only $7 to his name.
“My client has no money,” attorney Robert Sargent told the judge after requesting that Taitch be released for electronic monitoring.
In an unusually long statement for an initial bond hearing, Sargent also cautioned against judging Taitch based on the charge against him.
“I understand the community and the mob feeling to hold the person in and punish them,” Sargent said. “But we don’t punish our citizens until we prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Of the boys who chased Taitch, Sargent said: “They were angry, a downtown group of kids, so they started chasing my client. My client ran away like a kid in a schoolyard does when he’s threatened by a gang of kids. He ran and he ran.”
While Sargent said a trial would be needed to determine how many shots were fired, he indicated that Taitch had acted in self-defense.
“He didn’t turn around and come after anyone,” Sargent said. “He was hiding behind a car when the group of kids came chasing him, so defending himself.”
At the end of the hearing, Walker set Taitch’s bond at $200,000. His next hearing is expected to take place in Spokane County Superior Court.
After the shooting, passersby tried unsuccessfully to revive Daniels, who was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m.
Eddie Daniels III was born three months after the death of his father, Eddie Daniels Jr., in 2003. According to Spokesman-Review stories from the time, the elder Daniels was running from a police detective one evening in July of that year, and he tried to escape by jumping off the Monroe Street Bridge. He drowned in the Spokane River, and his body washed ashore near Peaceful Valley several days later. He was 25.
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