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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Suspect dead after deputies responded to shots fired in Spokane Valley

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 16, 2019

By Thomas Clouse and Kip Hill The Spokesman-Review

An apparent jilted ex-boyfriend is suspected of firing multiple rounds Friday morning at a Spokane Valley business park before two officers arrived and shot at the suspect, whose car then crashed into a tree before he was pronounced dead.

Spokane Valley police officers were called at 9:08 a.m. by an employee at a business at the Montgomery Business Park, 9922 E. Montgomery Drive. The worker inside reported that a person known to him was banging on the windows of the internet sales business and the man was attempting to gain entry, said Spokane Valley police Chief Mark Werner.

The employee “stated the business was not open to the public, and the doors were locked,” Sheriff’s Cpl. Mark Gregory said. “The victim advised he had been told the suspect, who was the ex-boyfriend of the victim’s current girlfriend, was intoxicated and armed with a pistol on his hip.”

Sheriff’s deputies, who are contracted to work as Spokane Valley police officers, were already responding to the call when the victim called dispatch to say that the man was now shooting a handgun. The two deputies engaged and shot the suspect. They radioed at 9:14 that he had been shot and had crashed into a tree, Gregory said.

But Gregory noted that investigators were still working as of Friday night to determine whether any of the shots did in fact hit the suspect.

“The suspect was able to make it back to his vehicle,” Gregory said.

The man was able to drive a short distance before he crashed into a tree, where Gregory said he died.

Gregory said investigators had not determined the cause of his death.

Besides the suspect, neither the victim nor the responding deputies were injured during the shooting. Most of the details of the motive, the number of shots fired, the names of the deputies and other details will come out when the investigation is complete, Gregory said. The Spokane Incident Regional Response team is investigating the incident, with the Spokane Police Department acting as the case-managing agency.

Witnesses at nearby businesses reported hearing the revving of a car engine and gunshots before they were informed by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office of an “active shooter” situation and to remain in their buildings. According to Gregory, officials never used the term “active shooter” in alerts or notifications about the incident.

“You could hear the engine revving,” said Kim Potter, an employee at West Coast Cash Register Systems, a business on the southeast corner of East Montgomery Avenue and North Woodruff Road.

Another nearby employee, who declined to give her name, said she heard gunshots around 9:15 a.m. Friday followed by the quick arrival of sheriff’s deputies.

“It almost sounded like fireworks, but there were a lot of them,” she said.

Tyler Wiegand, an employee at Doggyland Daycare and Boarding on Knox Avenue east of Woodruff, said he helped corral boarded dogs after a coworker reported witnessing gunfire in the street early Friday.

After securing the dogs, Wiegand stepped outside to see what he described as an SUV in a tree with its engine revving farther north near Montgomery Avenue.

“Personally, I didn’t hear any shots,” Wiegand said.

Gary Verhey, 83, was visiting a former tenant at a business in the Montgomery Business Park when he heard what sounded like firecrackers. They walked outside of the building to see the shooting.

“I saw two guys shooting in an easterly direction. They were not shooting at each other,” Verhey said. “I couldn’t tell if it was police or not.”

Verhey did not hear any commotion previous to the shooting.

“It was one prolonged shooting of 20 to 30 rounds. There was no stopping until it ended,” Verhey said. “As soon as the shooting ended, then I could hear sirens from police coming.”

Verhey bemoaned the proliferation of gun violence occurring on a regular basis.

“It’s getting to be a daily event,” Verhey said. “We just had Philadelphia. We just had Dayton and now we have this.”

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