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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

During arson investigation, officers shoot uncooperative man who fired gun, police say

Spokane police shot and killed a man late Sunday when he fired a gun after officers attempted to detain him as part of an arson investigation, police said in a news release.

Officers and firefighters were called to a home in the West Central Neighborhood about 10 p.m. Sunday when a neighbor reported the fire. Police and firefighters removed multiple people from the home at 1820 W. Dean Ave., according to the news release.

Firefighters knocked down the blaze quickly, said Justin de Ruyter, a fire department spokesperson. The fire hadn’t moved far, he added.

Officials on the scene suspected the fire may have been intentionally set and began interviewing witnesses. A man “was not cooperative” and walked away, the police news release said. When officers attempted to arrest him, he “discharged a firearm,” police said. Two officers returned fire.

Officers treated the suspect after he was disarmed, but he died on the scene, police said.

No one else was injured.

David Middleton has lived on the block for about 20 years.

He said the owners of the home where the fire was set are elderly and had moved out, in part due to health issues.

“She was letting street people live in their home,” Middleton said.

Neighbors had been calling police to the home frequently to deal with suspected drug use, late-night screaming and other noise. Otherwise, the neighborhood has improved a lot since Middleton first moved there 20 years ago, he said. The house that caught fire Sunday was the only problem house left on the block, he said.

On Sunday night, Middleton’s wife woke him after hearing fire engines and a commotion across the street, he said.

They went outside and saw the fire was out, but almost as soon as they got inside, Middleton heard a volley of about 15 shots, he said.

Middleton said the man who died, whose name he didn’t know, had been acting erratically for the past few days.

“It’s just unfortunate that somebody had to die,” Middleton said.

The two officers who fired their guns were placed on administrative leave, as is department policy. Both were wearing body cameras.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office will investigate the police shooting. The name of the man shot by officers will be released by the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

This report will be updated.