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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spirit Lake woman dies during SWAT standoff

A sheriff’s deputy walks away from a shooting scene in Spirit Lake Thursday, November 1, 2023.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

SPIRIT LAKE – A 67-year-old woman died in a senior living apartment Wednesday after a police shooting and SWAT standoff that forced other residents of the complex to evacuate.

The Spirit Lake Police Department said in a news release they responded to a mental health call near Fifth Avenue and Jefferson Street that escalated into an officer-involved shooting. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the incident, put out a statement that the woman was later “found” dead in an apartment.

The Kootenai County medical examiner identified the woman as 67-year-old Sa Floyd. The sheriff’s office has not clarified whether Floyd was shot by police during the standoff or if she died another way.

Sheriff’s deputies were processing the scene Thursday morning in apartment No. 8 of Maple Tree Court, a senior housing facility at 401 Jefferson St.

Spirit Lake resident Steve Stoke, who lives across the street from the facility, said his wife heard five gunshots and found out someone barricaded themselves into the apartment. SWAT and police surrounded the apartment and flash bangs were deployed, which were heard by neighbors on the surrounding streets. Police sounded like they were negotiating with the person to come out of the unit, Stoke said. Other residents at Maple Tree Court were evacuated to Spirit Lake City Hall.

“They were holding a loudspeaker saying, ‘Come out with your hands up, we are just here to help you,’ ” Stoke said. “It took hours.”

Amanda Aske, another neighbor in the area, said by the time she arrived home at around 6:30 p.m., police already had the apartment surrounded. SWAT drove a truck into the complex with multiple officers standing on the back of the car, all armed.

Police were on the street telling neighbors to go back inside, Aske said, all the while she could hear what she thought was a helicopter flying above the area.

Stoke and Aske both said this type of incident in the town is “shocking.”

“It’s really unusual,” Stoke said. “We are a quiet little town.”

Maple Tree Court management said they would not discuss the incident until the investigation is completed.

Crystal Utecht said she had helped Floyd several times during the past month for routine things such as going to the bank or grocery store.

As a visitation aide, Utecht said Floyd needed some extra help because she had trouble seeing and was poor and being evicted.

She also was tiny.

“She was small,” Utecht said. “Maybe 100 pounds.”

“She lived on her own so she obviously could get around, but when we left, she asked me, ‘Do you know how to deal with a blind person?’ And she said she would hang on to my elbow,” Utecht said. That exchange was last Friday.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a message Thursday seeking confirmation that Floyd had vision problems.

“She said, ‘Just don’t walk too fast and keep me in the middle of the sidewalk,’ ” Utecht recalled. “She carried a white cane. She’d feel the curb with the cane.”

Utecht noted that Floyd had to put on dark lenses when they went outside. She also said Floyd was using the last of her home care allowance.

“She was worried because she was down to her last nine hours to use for the year and she had to move,” she said. “I feel really bad. I think she was at the end of her rope.”

Utecht said she believes Floyd was about to be evicted after helping her move belongings into storage last Friday. Floyd was receiving help to become approved for Medicaid for assisted living.

“I know she didn’t have anywhere to go. I don’t know if she had a weapon, don’t know if she would since she was almost blind,” Utecht said. “She didn’t seem violent or angry.”

The Spirit Lake Senior Center, located behind the complex, also had a sign posted on the window Friday morning that said the center would be closed for a number of hours while police continued the investigation and declined to comment.