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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Police officers shoot man on edge of Shadle Park High School

A man was shot multiple times by Spokane police officers Thursday on the edge of Shadle Park High School after police say the man shot a tow truck during a dispute with the driver earlier in the day in north Spokane.

The shooting left several students nearby shaken and one family with property damage after bullets struck their house, cars and nearly their children who were inside the home.

Spokane Police Chief Justin Lundgren told reporters officers were called at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday to the 5900 block of North Lindeke Street in Northwest Spokane for an argument between a man and a tow truck driver conducting a repossession.

Lundgren said police received reports the man threatened the tow truck driver with a knife and then fired a gun, striking the tow truck. The man fled in a vehicle.

Officers developed probable cause to arrest the man on suspicion of drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm, Lundgren said.

They located the suspect at 6:15 p.m. near a ballfield where a baseball game was being played at Shadle Park High School.

Police tried to contact the man, but he ran from officers, Lundgren said. Officers chased him away from the game when a “shooting occurred” in a parking lot on the south side of the school.

The man was hit multiple times by gunfire. Lundgren said officers and medics rendered aid before he was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery Thursday night.

A news release from the Spokane Independent Investigative Response Team, which is investigating the shooting, said the man is expected to recover. No one else was injured.

Several bullets struck Rebecca Landrum’s house and vehicles. One bullet went through the side of the house and came “incredibly close” to hitting children who were in the basement, she said.

The bullet hit a shelf and shot up into the ceiling instead.

“If it would have come straight, I’m not certain the outcome, but luckily it hit the shelf and bounced up,” she said.

She said her family heard about 10 to 12 shots at a “rapid pace.”

“I just heard my husband screaming, ‘Get on the ground,’ and a little girl screaming because the bullet had gone through the house,” Landrum said.

She said she ran outside to check on her son.

At that time, she saw the suspect lying on the ground saying he couldn’t breathe and asking if police were getting him help.

Five bullets hit her property: one hit her house, one shattered a window of her red Ford Focus and lodged in the car’s ceiling, two bullets hit her husband’s tow truck tire and rim and one was found in her yard.

She said it was very scary, and she and her children took Friday off to recover.

“I’m thankful nobody was injured, of course,” Landrum said. “I mean, it’s a very active school and a very active neighborhood, but the police did the right thing.”

Megan Martens-Haworth, who also lives across the street from the high school campus, said she heard about 10 to 12 “really fast” pops she thought were fireworks.

Then, she heard sirens and ran upstairs from her basement and saw police cars, fire trucks and ambulances. She popped her head out the door and saw an officer stringing up crime scene tape.

“I said, ‘Was that gunfire?’ And he goes, ‘Yes, get back in your house,’ ” Martens-Haworth said.

She said track and field students were practicing at the track across the street from her home when gunfire erupted.

The “most alarming” part was watching the coaches escorting about 20 athletes to the other end of the track, she said.

“My heart was in my throat when I saw the coaches rushing them off the field,” she said.

Martens-Haworth, who was home with her daughter, also said the shooting was scary.

“When the school’s not in session, it’s really quiet around here, so that was a shocker,” she said.

Ryan Lancaster, Spokane Public Schools spokesman, said the nearby baseball game featured Shadle Park and Ferris High School freshmen.

The school district emailed families of the players Thursday night informing them there was a police shooting, no students were injured and that they were allowed to leave the school premises safely.

Shadle Park High Principal Chris Dunn emailed Shadle students’ families Thursday night with a similar message. Ferris High Principal John O’Dell called parents of the team Friday morning, Lancaster said.

Additional counselors were at Shadle and Ferris on Friday for students who needed them, Lancaster said.

Nathan Lill, head of the Upper School or high school, at St. George’s School, said about 20 boys and girls on his school’s track and field teams were practicing at the Shadle track when shots were fired. Lill said the teams practice at Shadle because St George’s does not have its own track and field facility.

Most of the athletes were leaving the track when the shooting happened, and parents were there to pick them up in the parking lot next to the track. Three of the athletes’ cars were inside the crime scene and had to be picked up Friday, Lill said.

He said track coaches had the students get down, and coaches guided other athletes to the opposite end of the track when shots were fired. St. George’s facilities manager, who is also a Shadle baseball coach, sheltered players at the baseball field, Lill said.

The investigators’ release said the suspect ran through the school’s track before the shots.

Lill and another school official rushed to Shadle when they heard of the incident. He said he initially received misinformation, like the suspect was shooting at people, which stirred up “the worst thoughts,” he said.

They were relieved when they got to Shadle and learned the truth.

“We were just glad everybody was safe,” Lill said.

He said counselors were available Friday at St. George’s as well, and some students took advantage of the services.

“It’s been a good day overall of healing and processing,” said Lill, noting many students were still shaken.

Police recovered a gun next to the suspect, whose name was not released, and it was unknown whether the suspect fired his weapon, Lundgren said. Three officers fired their weapons and will be placed on administrative leave, per officer-involved shooting protocol.

Spokane police will release the names of the officers who fired their weapons, according to a Spokane police news release.

The release said the suspect has previous felony convictions and cannot possess a gun. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office filed a report last year in which the suspect’s girlfriend indicated he was “armed and dangerous” and considered “engaging with police” so he would be shot, police said.

The Washington State Patrol is serving as the managing investigating agency, and the case will be forwarded to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office for review when the investigation is complete.

Multiple law enforcement vehicles could be seen with red and yellow police tape blocking off the scene Thursday night.

The shooting marked the fifth one involving Spokane police this year.

“Anytime there’s an officer-involved shooting, it concerns me,” Lundgren said. “It concerns me for our community. It concerns me for our officers. This one’s no different.”