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

Erratic man armed with baseball bat, knife was tased, arrested inside Valley Walmart

Jan. 28, 2023 Updated Sat., Jan. 28, 2023 at 8:32 p.m.

A 31-year-old man acting erratically and armed with a knife and baseball bat inside a Spokane Valley Walmart was tased several times by law enforcement before he was arrested Saturday.

Shortly before noon, deputies responded to Walmart, 15727 E. Broadway Ave., for reports of a man, later identified as James W. Jennings, jumping on a vehicle and trying to light it on fire in the parking lot, according to a Spokane Valley Police Department news release.

After Jennings moved away from the vehicle, bystanders removed burning clothing Jennings placed under the vehicle, potentially preventing the car from igniting, deputies said.

Deputies contacted Jennings inside the store where he was armed with a large kitchen knife, baseball bat, batting helmet and a pole, according to the release.

Some witnesses say Jennings was armed with a handgun, but deputies did not find one when they arrested Jennings, police said. The release said Jennings had a handheld flashlight that could have been mistaken for a gun. Walmart employees evacuated customers away from the danger.

Deputies tried to deescalate the situation, but Jennings would not comply with commands, including to drop the knife in his hand, police said. A Taser was used several times, but it did not work because Jennings was wearing bulky winter clothing.

A final Taser deployment and pepper spray were eventually effective, and Jennings was taken into custody. Deputies said Jennings sustained a self-inflicted knife wound to his thigh.

Jennings was taken to the hospital before he was booked into the Spokane County Jail on suspicion of first-degree robbery, second-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree reckless burning and obstructing.

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