The drive-by shooting of a Spokane police officer on Sunday was shocking but not surprising to residents in the Nevada Heights neighborhood, a handful of them said on Tuesday.
“Through the years, crime has upticked,” said resident Linda Jemks, who lives at the intersection of Perry Street and Empire Avenue, where Officer Kris Honaker was shot while driving through on Sunday.
Jemks was outside her home of 15 years watering her lawn when the drive-by shooting happened, she said. Honaker’s vehicle and multiple other police officers pulled right up to her house after the drive-by.
Honaker was taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds to his leg and head after Ray Wynecoop, 22, and Isaac Ott, 21, are alleged to have opened fire on his vehicle with a semi-automatic firearm. Officers were in the area that afternoon in response to reports of drive-by shootings on Garland Avenue and Martin Street.
Both men were arrested on Sunday and jailed in lieu of a $1 million bond. They are accused of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. Wynecoop is also suspected of attempting to elude police.
“It becomes an everyday thing until it hits your own neighborhood, or someone you know,” Jemks said. “I have tried to be diligent in getting to know my neighbors so we can be supportive – regardless – of one another.”
A few drug houses and gang areas are scattered throughout the area, she said. The area is also home to several schools, most of which are about a mile apart.
Ott and Wynecoop eventually crashed their car onto a small hill at a Dalton Avenue home as police chased them. Konra Ridnour, who has lived at the residence for 60 years, said she was startled by a large noise outside. She was more scared by the swarm of police vehicles that arrived shortly after. She said she had never seen anything like it.
“This is a tough neighborhood because it’s not a rich neighborhood,” said Sean Lumsden, pastor at Living Hope church, located at Garland and Nevada.
Several of the church’s windows are pocked with bullet holes from incidents in previous years.
With rent increasing throughout the city, the area is one of the few neighborhoods that people down on their luck can afford, he said. Residents are generally anxious about crime in the neighborhood, but keep each other pretty informed, he said.
“It’s a transient neighborhood,” Lumsden said, referring to the rate that its residents move. “I once had a moment of realization that if God answered the prayers of everyone in my church, they wouldn’t be here.”
John Brucker, who also lives at the intersection of Perry and Empire, has heard occasional gun shots in the past, though most visible crime he sees involves property crime or drugs, he said.
“It scared us,” he said of the Sunday drive-by. “We’re not all that close, but we look out for each other.”
Law enforcement is investigating whether the drive-by shootings were gang-related. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office expects to recommend additional charges as the investigation continues.
Wynecoop’s prior felony convictions include burglary, car theft, attempted residential burglary and attempting to elude police, according to court documents. Ott’s prior felony convictions include residential burglary and robbery. Both were under Washington State Department of Corrections supervision and released early.
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