Two suspects are in custody in connection to reports of multiple drive-by shootings in northeast Spokane, including one that left a Spokane police officer seriously injured, according to the Spokane Police Department.
Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said the officer is in serious but stable condition during a news conference Sunday evening with Mayor Nadine Woodward. Deputies with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office are taking the lead on the investigation, Meidl said.
The first drive-by shooting was reported around 1:40 p.m. in the area of 1600 East Garland Avenue, Meidl said. As officers investigated, reports of another drive-by shooting came in less than 15 minutes later, this one from the area of 3000 Martin Street, according to the police chief.
As officers were responding to the second call, a Spokane police officer near Empire Avenue and Perry Street saw a vehicle that matched the suspect vehicle’s description “closing rapidly” on her vehicle, Meidl said.
A second responding officer was then driving by; Meidl said shots were fired from the suspect vehicle at the second officer. Spokane police Cpl. Nick Briggs said the shooting was “unprovoked.”
According to Meidl, the officer was struck in the leg and head and taken to a local hospital for treatment.
A chase ensued with multiple officers pursuing the suspect vehicle, according to the police department. The suspects crashed their vehicle and attempted to flee on foot before they were quickly apprehended, Meidl said.
“We did recover several guns from the scene,” the police chief said. “There are multiple scenes related to this. We transported the officer to the hospital where he is in serious but stable condition. … We were able to speak with him. He is coherent and surrounded by his family and his loved ones right now.”
Meidl could not say where exactly the suspects crashed their vehicle or where they were arrested. In addition to Garland Avenue, Martin Street, Empire Avenue and Perry Street, officers also had set up road closures at the 600 block of East Dalton Avenue as well as East Liberty Avenue and North Nevada Street as they investigated Sunday’s events.
While police do not believe there are any additional suspects at this time, the investigation is ongoing. The initial investigation, Meidl said, indicates that no Spokane police officers fired their weapons, while the police chief did not have any information on whether any civilians were injured.
Woodward and Meidl said they are confident the injured officer will make a full recovery.
“It’s the worst news that a mayor can hear, it’s the worst news that a police chief can hear and his fellow officers can hear,” Woodward said. “My God, it’s the worst thing that a family of an officer can hear.”
This is the second time a Spokane police officer has been shot in the line of duty in recent years.
Officer Juan Rodriguez was shot in the leg during a gunfire exchange in 2020 while pursuing a carjacking suspect. Prior to Rodriguez’s injury, the last time a Spokane police officer was struck by gunfire in the line of duty was in 1991 following a high-speed pursuit that started in Stevens County.
Meidl said the department is seeing a spike in reports of drive-by shootings and other violent crimes this year, part of a steady increase over the last few years.
Drive-by shootings in the city were down 2.4% in 2021, but that was after rising 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.
Woodward said it is fortunate that the incident did not occur near downtown, as thousands of visitors flooded the streets for the last day of Hoopfest. She called on community members and local leaders to address what she called a sharp uptick in violent crimes in the city.
“The violence has got to stop,” Woodward said. “We were inches away from losing an officer.”
Anyone with any information or has surveillance video is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
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