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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Man shot in the face remains in critical condition; suspect arrested as court documents give account of incident

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 20, 2022

The man who was shot in the face Wednesday night remained in critical condition as the man accused of shooting him made his first court appearance Thursday.

Spokane Police officers responded to reports of a shooting outside of 616 S. Cedar St. at about 5:40 p.m.

There, they found Scott Jerko with a gunshot wound to his jaw. Jerko was awake and alert as officers began providing first aid, according to court documents.

He was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition as of late Thursday morning.

Jerko’s father, Michael Jerko, told police the shooter had fled.

Witnesses described the shooter as a man in his 60s wearing a plaid jacket and walking a little white dog, according to court documents.

Police located a man, later identified as Gary Lee Cottrill Sr., 65, minutes later. Cottrill told police he had a small Derringer-style pistol in his pocket, which records indicate the officers immediately confiscated.

The pistol contained one loaded round and one spent round.

Officers took Cottrill in for an interview, according to court documents. In the meantime, they spoke with witnesses and the victim’s father.

Numerous area residents had reported slashed tires and keyed cars over the past few days, according to court documents.

Michael Jerko captured one of the incidents on his security camera, according to court documents. He showed police the video in which a man, who looked like Cottrill, pulled out a folding knife and punctured the tire of a vehicle parked in their driveway, while walking his white Pomeranian.

On Wednesday evening, Scott Jerko saw Cottrill walking down the street and confronted him while carrying a wooden club, Michael Jerko told police.

That’s when Cottrill pulled out a gun and shot Scott Jerko in the face, Michael Jerko told police.

One witness, who also knew about the recent vandalism, took a video of the shooting, according to the court document.

The witness told police he was on the front porch of a nearby house when he heard an argument between two men. The witness recognized one of the men as the person who had been slashing tires in the neighborhood.

Cottrill and Scott Jerko argued for about a minute as they walked down the sidewalk, the witness said. Then Michael Jerko came and joined the confrontation, and moments later, the witness heard a gunshot.

While the video captured the audio of the shooting, the incident itself was hard to see due to how dark it was, documents indicate.

The witness identified Cottrill as the shooter, according to court documents.

When Cottrill was interviewed, he told police that he walks his dog three times a day at consistent times on the same route.

He said that Wednesday two “meth heads” threatened him with a club, according to court documents.

Cottrill said he pulled out his pistol and told Scott Jerko to get back, but he instead advanced. Cottrill said he fired one round toward Jerko’s chest and then continued on his walk, according to court documents.

This wasn’t the first time he had been in a confrontation with these men, Cottrill told police. He said one of the Jerkos confronted Cottrill at his apartment on Tuesday, accused him of something, and kicked him three times in the chest, court documents state.

However, when police asked Cottrill to pull up his shirt to show any injuries from the attack, the officer did not observe any evidence of the assault, according to court documents.

Cottrill said that because of the attack the day prior, he took his pistol on Wednesday’s walk.

When showed the video of someone slashing tires, Cottrill said the person in the video could not clearly be identified, denied committing the vandalism and asked for an attorney, police said.

Police determined there was enough evidence to show that Cottrill had vandalized cars in the neighborhood and that it was Cottrill who escalated the confrontation to violence, not the Jerkos, according to court documents.

Cottrill was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail on suspicion of first-degree assault. Cottrill has three prior misdemeanor convictions dating back to 1990. Most recently, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in 2013.

Spokane County Superior Court Commissioner John Stine found the shooting was the “end of a long stream” of problems caused by Cottrill, and he is at a high risk of violence. Cottrill’s bond was set at $50,000.

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