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Teens suspected of shooting over illegal vape pen identified; 19-year-old victim remains hospitalized

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 21, 2020

Spokane County Fire District 8 firefighters treated a man with a gunshot wound to his abdomen after a shooting on East 55th Ave on Sunday Oct. 18.  (Courtesy of Spokane County Fire District 8 union, local 3711)
Spokane County Fire District 8 firefighters treated a man with a gunshot wound to his abdomen after a shooting on East 55th Ave on Sunday Oct. 18. (Courtesy of Spokane County Fire District 8 union, local 3711)

Three teens met Sunday for the oldest boy to sell the younger two a Puff Bar vape pen, but the transaction suddenly went bad – leaving the 19-year-old seller hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the chest, court documents say.

Tobias Hamm, 17, and Logan Birrell, 16, were arrested and charged as adults with assault in the first-degree and first-degree robbery on Sunday.

According to court documents, the teens met up with 19-year-old Steven Leblanc on Sunday just after 2:30 p.m. in the area of 2700 E. 55th Ave. Leblanc had previously sold Hamm a vape pen and agreed to sell the pair a Puff Bar on Sunday, according to court records.

When Leblanc arrived, Hamm approached the car with Birrell, who he didn’t know prior to this meeting. The trio had been talking for about 30 seconds when Birrell pulled out a black semi-automatic pistol and pointed it at Leblanc, the victim told police.

Birrell demanded Leblanc’s car and money, but Leblanc thought the gun was fake so he told Birrell he would have to shoot him then slapped at the pistol, according to court records. Birrell asked Leblanc if he wanted to be shot, to which Leblanc responded by driving away, according to court records.

As he pulled away, Leblanc told police he heard a gunshot then felt pain in his upper body and lost feeling in his legs. With his foot stuck on the gas pedal, Leblanc was rapidly accelerating west on 55th, according to court records. Leblanc lifted his leg off the gas pedal and used the emergency brake to stop the car at 55th Avenue and Crestline Street, where he called 9-1-1 before witnesses offered help.

Leblanc was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he remains in satisfactory condition.

Multiple witnesses described Hamm and Birrell to police after the shooting, according to court records. Police were able to identify Hamm from their description and eventually contacted Hamm’s mother, who told police he had been staying at a friend’s house. Police were able to get in touch with Birrell’s parents, who said Hamm had been staying at their house for the last five days.

Birrell’s father told police he owns a Glock model 17 semi-automatic pistol, which is normally stored in a hard-sided travel golf bag in his bedroom, according to court records. A few days prior to the shooting, Birrell’s mother found two Glock magazines in her son’s room, which led the parents to discover the pistol was missing, according to court records.

When contacted by police on the day of the shooting, Birrell’s mother told police the boys had returned home about 5:30 p.m. Police arrested both Birrell and Hamm at the Birrell family home Sunday evening.

While collecting evidence at the scene of the shooting, police found two 9 mm cartridge cases with identical head stamps, according to court records. A search of the Birrell family home led to a gun matching the description of the Birrell family handgun in a backpack in a basement bedroom closet, court records show. The headstamp from the pistol read “9mm Luger WIN,” the same as the headstamp left on the spent cartridges at the scene of the shooting.

Both teens were scheduled for first appearances in Spokane County Superior Court Tuesday. Both are being held on $250,000 bail.

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