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Police kill man they say held knife, approached officers in north Spokane

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 23, 2019

Police and medical personnel gather at the scene of an officer-involved shooting near the corner of Fairview Avenue and Monroe Street, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Police and medical personnel gather at the scene of an officer-involved shooting near the corner of Fairview Avenue and Monroe Street, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Jonathan Glover and Will Campbell The Spokesman-Review

Police shot and killed a man Wednesday in north Spokane after he wielded a knife while approaching police and refused orders to drop the weapon.

At about 3:35 p.m., Spokane police officers responded to a call about a man threatening people with a gun near West Fairview Avenue and North Monroe Street, Assistant Police Chief Justin Lundgren said. Officers were unable to locate him, but police received another call about the man from a store nearby, he said.

Officers located the man in a gravel parking lot between Andy’s Market grocery store and the Franz Bakery Outlet. The man brandished a knife and began walking toward officers. Officers shouted at the suspect, telling him to drop the weapon, and shot him five times when he refused, Lundgren said.

Lundgren said the man died from his wounds. The man’s name was not immediately available.

One witness, Ryan Riggin, captured the shooting on video, but he declined to share it with the media. It appeared to show a man holding an object walking toward a police officer. When the man is about 5 feet away, the officer shoots him at least four times. Because of the video’s quality, it is unclear whether the man is holding a weapon.

Nathan Sallee, who operates Furniture Outpost across the street, said minutes before the shooting, the man had run into the middle of the street, where he was yelling and swearing.

“He was just being crazy and cursing and slurring,” Sallee said. “And then he disappeared for about five minutes.”

Sallee said the man entered the grocery store, and several police cars pulled up a few minutes later. He said he saw three officers – some holding assault rifles – exit their vehicles and stop near the vehicles in the alleyway between the store and Franz Bakery.

While he couldn’t see the shooting because of the angle of where he was standing, he said he heard at least three gunshots.

Christopher Gray, who posted a photo of the scene shortly after the shooting to Facebook, said he walked up to the parking lot just as shots were being fired.

“I was super stunned what I heard,” he wrote in the post. “I can’t be definite on how many shots or the amount of officers.”

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office will conduct the investigation, and the Spokane County medical examiner will release the name of the suspect.

Lundgren could not confirm if the responding officers had turned on their body cameras.

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