A man was arrested after a drive-by shooting that targeted the East Central homeless encampment known as Camp Hope before dawn Wednesday, the camp’s managers said.
Police arrested 24-year-old James W. Rackliff in connection with the shooting on Wednesday. Rackliff was booked into the Spokane County Jail on two counts of drive-by shooting.
No one was hurt in the shooting, which occurred between 3 and 4 a.m., camp manager Maurice Smith said. Camp security reported 10 to 15 shots, although that information was not confirmed by Spokane police.
Rackliff is believed to have provided a ride to a woman living at the camp but suspected that she stole something from him and attempted to find her, the Spokane Police Department said in a release. While searching for her, “he discharged a firearm from his vehicle multiple times.”
Smith said that the grievance did not take place at the camp.
“No alleged grievance justifies this type of response or behavior. Period,” he wrote in a statement. “We’re a better community than this.”
Camp security identified the suspect’s vehicle and gave the license plate number to Spokane police, who located and arrested Rackliff on the South Hill on the 3300 block of South Southeast Boulevard about an hour after the incident, the department said in a release.
Spokane police officers served a search warrant at Rackliff’s residence and recovered multiple firearms, the department said.
Smith said that the camp’s recently erected fence “did exactly what it was designed and intended to do” by preventing the suspected shooter from driving or walking into the camp from any angle.
“From my perspective as camp manager, it could have been a lot worse,” he said.
The camp has been targeted in the past with pellet guns, which have hit some of the camp’s residents, he said, but the shooting on Wednesday “raises this type of behavior to a completely different level. Being homeless and living in a homeless camp should not make anyone a target for this type of criminal behavior.”
Smith said he has had to ask people who are armed to leave their firearms outside of the camp. In one instance, a person showed up with a GoPro camera and a handgun looking for stolen property, which was later recovered in a Walmart parking lot, he said.
Smith said criminal activity does occur in the camp, and residents who engage in it are asked to leave. When it’s “serious enough,” camp management will call the police, but “law enforcement has been very reluctant to engage with us,” Smith said.
Police are continuing to investigate the target of the shooting and the nature of the grievance between Rackliff and the woman.
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