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After high-speed chase and water rescue effort, police arrest man who jumped into Spokane River, covered himself with rocks

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 9, 2019

A multiagency car chase starting in Airway Heights led to a man abandoning a pregnant woman in his car to jump into the Spokane River to hide Friday morning. With the help of water-rescue teams, police found him covered with rocks and arrested him. (Will Campbell / The Spokesman-Review)
A multiagency car chase starting in Airway Heights led to a man abandoning a pregnant woman in his car to jump into the Spokane River to hide Friday morning. With the help of water-rescue teams, police found him covered with rocks and arrested him. (Will Campbell / The Spokesman-Review)

A multiagency car chase starting in Airway Heights led to a man abandoning a pregnant woman in his car to jump into the Spokane River to hide Friday morning. With the help of water-rescue teams, police found him covered with rocks and arrested him.

The pursuit started at about 4 a.m. in Airway Heights, according to Terry Preuniger, spokesman for the Spokane Police Department. The suspect, Casey Gillette, allegedly sped off after police reattempted to stop him for driving with no license plates.

Police spike-stripped the tires, and Gillette continued to drive toward downtown Spokane on the car’s rims. Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies assisted in the pursuit and Spokane police officers set up a perimeter in downtown, Preuniger said.

Gillette abandoned the car on the north side of the river. A pregnant woman in the car was detained shortly after, according to a report by KHQ-TV.

Gillette ran across the Division Street Bridge and jumped into the water, possibly breaking an ankle or leg, and swam back to the north bank, Preuniger said. Helicopters, police dogs and water-rescue crews in inflatable kayaks from the Spokane and Spokane Valley fire departments responded to assist law enforcement agencies.

Preuniger said Gillette hid and covered himself with rocks while rescue crews and police searched for him. Police also taped off a part of the Centennial Trail on the north bank. They found Gillette and arrested him at about 7:10 a.m., and he was taken to the hospital.

During the search for Gillette, sheriff’s deputies determined he had been involved in a burglary of a Spokane Valley home in June, during which he allegedly stole a loaded gun from the bedside of the victim, who was asleep in the bed.

Preuniger said that led to a large-scale response by law enforcement, because Gillette could have been armed with a deadly weapon.

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