Two people were critically injured and a third is seriously hurt after a drive-by shooting outside a downtown Spokane bar early Saturday that sent patrons fleeing.
A suspect has been arrested, but police wouldn’t identify the person. When asked whether there are additional suspects, SPD said the agency is investigating.
Spokane police spokesperson Julie Humphreys said it was too early in the investigation to tell whether the shooting was gang related. Lt. Terry Preuninger said there was nothing to indicate the victims had any connection to the shooter.
Saturday’s shootings were the latest in a growing pattern of violence in Spokane. Drive-by shootings in the city were down 2.4% in 2021, but that was after going up 30.9% compared to the three-year average of 2018 to 2020, according to Spokane police data. Total shootings were up 60.6% in 2021 and spiked 148.9% last year compared to the average of the three previous years.
The shooting started just before 1:30 a.m., when police were called to Lucky’s Irish Pub, 408 W. Sprague Ave.
Officers found three victims and began providing medical treatment as bar patrons ran, police said.
“It was pretty chaotic,” said Preuninger, who said he was the second officer on scene.
The victims were a man and woman who were standing outside the bar, and a female taxi driver who was parked east of Lucky’s, police said. It isn’t clear which of the three were critically injured .
Meghan George, 25, said she and her friend were outside Lucky’s when she heard four gunshots. She said a man standing near her yelled to “get down,” so she and her friend dropped to the sidewalk.
He was shot moments later.
“He didn’t deserve it,” said George, who said the man was an innocent bystander.
Preuninger said the shooter’s vehicle drove the wrong way, east, on Sprague Avenue, while someone fired from a handgun in the vehicle. Soon after broadcasting a description of the vehicle to law enforcement, a Washington State Patrol trooper saw a match and detained the driver off U.S. Highway 2 outside the city limits, Preuninger said.
That person, the only arrest made in the case as of Saturday night, faces three counts of drive-by shooting, officers said.
When officers arrived, Preuninger said it appeared there was a large fight outside the bar, but it was actually people trying to treat one of the victims.
George said six more gunshots rang out while she and her friend were on the ground. Then, they raced inside Lucky’s and hid. George said she felt selfish for rushing into the bar instead of helping the man, who she did not know. But she said she’s not sure her help would have saved him.
“I feel terrible that I couldn’t help that guy,” she said.
George tucked white lillies between the black railing and building where the man was shot. Dried blood was still visible on the sidewalk and wall where she set the flowers Saturday afternoon.
George said the first set of flowers she set there were taken, so she replaced them . She said she will continue to set flowers there if they are removed.
“I’m obviously very lucky, and it’s just sad to see that the other people weren’t that lucky,” she said.
George, who moved from Seattle earlier this year, said she may have been shot if it were not for a vehicle parallel parked in front of her on Sprague.
“I definitely could have gotten shot,” she said. “The only reason I didn’t is because a car was here.”
Leo Francovich and his friends were walking early Saturday morning to Mootsy’s when he said he heard three gunshots ring out.
He said one of his friends ducked.
“I’ve heard a gunshot before, but in my mind I just thought, ‘Oh, a car’s misfiring or something like that,’ because I’m not expecting that type of violence,” said Francovich, who is the brother of Spokesman-Review Outdoors Editor Eli Francovich. “I’m not accustomed to that.”
He said officers, who were nearby conducting bar patrol, arrived almost immediately.
“They rolled up so quick,” Francovich said. “It was a crisis.”
Some people ran, while others tried to help a man who was shot, including a few of Francovich’s friends.
“People were in shock,” he said.
“He was slumped against the wall of Lucky’s,” he said.
Francovich said he saw a woman shot in the leg, and he did not know there was a third victim.
“It was just a wild night,” he said.
Francovich said he saw a vehicle speeding the wrong way on Sprague, heard the three shots, then the vehicle whipped around the corner going the wrong way on Washington Street. Had he and his friends left their previous destination 5 seconds earlier, they would have been “right on top of the shooting,” he said.
Charles Mayfield said he was sitting inside Mootsy’s when he heard the gunshots. He and others ran outside to help the woman who was shot in the leg. He said he is a friend of hers. He also noticed the taxi driver was shot.
“It was pretty scary,” Mayfield said.
In addition to the three victims, at least one window was shot out, and police were looking for other bullet strikes Saturday morning, Preuninger said. There were multiple shell casings in the street.
One bullet apparently struck the exterior wall of P.M. Jacoy’s, a small grocery store next to Mootsy’s, as a “defect” label was left by detectives near the damaged part of the wall.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Officer will identify the two who died, Preuninger said.
The downtown shooting was the second to cause major injuries in Spokane Saturday. Earlier in the morning, police arrested a man on suspicion of assault after another man was shot twice on Queen Avenue. That victim was in serious but stable condition, officers said.
The incidents are unrelated, police said.
Mayfield said the rise in shootings in Spokane is “out of control.”
Francovich said it was strange to witness one that close.
“We live in a first-world country and you don’t expect to see violent conflict in our communities, but it’s always a possibility,” he said. “It’s always, you know, lurking on the other side of things.”
Editor’s note: Court documents filed on Monday, April 11, 2022, indicated that two of shooting victims who were reported by police on Saturday to have died remained alive but were on life support. This article was changed on April 11, 2022, to remove references of the victims dying.