Spokane police arrested a 44-year-old man accused of assaulting and threatening people with a gun Sunday morning in the downtown core and in Riverfront Park.
Officers swarmed the area around the Clocktower after receiving reports of a man threatening people with a gun. The suspect, Jason C. Whitaker, dropped his weapon – a stolen .22-caliber pistol – as officers approached and was arrested moments later, Cpl. Ron Van Tassel said in a news release.
While police investigated, several witnesses told officers they had seen Whitaker acting erratically and making threats, Van Tassel said. It started near Howard Street and Main Avenue, where Whitaker allegedly confronted a stranger, accused him of being an undercover cop and threatened to kill him.
Whitaker then walked toward the park and stole another stranger’s backpack, then fled as the victim pursued him, Van Tassel said. The victim caught up to Whitaker and tried to retrieve his backpack, but Whitaker punched him, knocking him to the ground, Van Tassel said.
Whitaker got on top and continued punching the man, who was nearly knocked unconscious, Van Tassel said. While bystanders yelled at Whitaker to stop, he threatened to get a gun and kill one of them, Van Tassel said.
Whitaker left and then returned to the area around the Clocktower, waving a gun and making threats, Van Tassel said. He was arrested moments after officers arrived.
Whitaker appeared to be under the influence of drugs, Van Tassel said. Whitaker was booked into the Spokane County Jail shortly before noon on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm and possession of methamphetamine. He has a prior conviction for felony arson, Van Tassel said.
Van Tassel said anyone who witnessed Whitaker’s behavior and hasn’t already spoken with officers, should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 with the reference number 2020-201337314.
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