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

Man, 38, accused of crime spree marked by drive-thru carjacking, arson and trying to kidnap a 9-year-old girl

Daniel Pajas had a busy day last week that ended with him hitting a police officer with a rake during his arrest, according to court documents.

In 1½ hours, the 38-year-old man is accused of carjacking a vehicle in a downtown Spokane fast food drive-thru, eluding police in the stolen car, kidnapping a 9-year-old girl, burglarizing a home and setting fire to the back of another home before his arrest on the South Hill, where he said he would “shoot officers if he had a gun,” court records show.

Pajas faces 12 felony charges and one misdemeanor. They include arson, assault, robbery, kidnapping, attempt to elude police, burglary, malicious mischief and theft.

The series of alleged crimes started shortly after 6 p.m. Friday at a Carl’s Jr. drive-thru on Third Avenue.

A woman told police she was receiving her food in the drive-thru when she believed a rock hit her arm.

A restaurant employee said a man, later identified as Pajas, threw a rock through the customer’s 2014 Hyundai Sonata window, documents say.

The victim said Pajas opened her door and ordered her to get out. He got in the car and drove off in the Sonata.

Officers reported Pajas drove fast and recklessly on the South Hill in the alleged stolen car, according to documents. Pajas gave pursuing officers the middle finger at one point, police said in documents.

An officer tried to conduct a precision immobilization technique (PIT) maneuver but was unsuccessful. Police stopped the pursuit at Glenrose Road and Cherry Lane.

Police eventually found the vehicle abandoned in the backyard of a home near 28th Avenue and Ray Street, court records say.

As police tried tracking the suspect with a K-9 unit, officers learned a kidnapping and burglary happened about five blocks away from where the Sonata was found.

A 9-year-old girl was playing with a friend outside apartments on Mount Vernon Street near 32nd Avenue when a shirtless Pajas wrapped an arm around the girl from behind and forced her to walk with him, according to camera footage.

The girl told police Pajas walked up behind her, grabbed her with one hand along her back and covered her mouth with his other hand. She said Pajas told her, “You’re coming with me,” while walking and pushing her. She said a neighbor pulled her free and tackled the man before Pajas ran away.

The neighbor told police he heard the girl’s friend yell the man was a stranger and followed after him. He yelled at him to let go and noticed he was trying to cover the victim’s mouth as she struggled against him. The girl broke free and ran away, the neighbor told police.

Police then received a call of a man matching the description of the alleged kidnapper breaking into a nearby home. A homeowner on Smith Street flagged down an officer saying a shirtless man busted out his back fence to go from his yard into another yard.

The man emerged near 37th Avenue and Smith Street and ran from several officers, police say in documents. Police detained him under a stairwell about one block away on Mount Vernon Street.

The burglary victim, who found Pajas in her home, told police about $500 in jewelry and an unknown amount of cash and coins were stolen from her home. She said she saw Pajas walk out of her bedroom holding a pillowcase, which appeared full of items. She asked Pajas how he got into her house and he said, “I worked hard at it,” she told police.

Pajas then walked past her and fled.

The screen to the bedroom window to her home was removed and the bedroom was “ransacked,” according to documents.

Pajas then started a fire behind a Smith Street home, according to documents. An officer said the base of the house was on fire when he arrived and a lawnmower, kayak and shed were in flames.

A gas can was lying in the backyard, and the shed was also burned, police reported. An occupant of the home estimated more than $2,000 in damages to the structures and items.

When police spotted Pajas, they said he dropped two pillowcases, which contained jewelry, coins, cash and other items from the burglary. Police said Pajas ran, picked up a rake and swung it at an officer, striking him in the head and torso.

Police found two lighters in Pajas’ pockets.

As he was arrested, Pajas said, “I hit the officer with a rake.” and he would “shoot officers if he had a gun,” police said in documents.

Earlier that day, police say Pajas broke into an apartment at 2240 E. North Crescent Ave., where he stole $1,400 worth of cash and jewelry. Those are included in the 13 total charges.

Pajas made his first appearance Monday in Spokane County Superior Court and is set for an arraignment July 23. Pajas was in the Spokane County Jail Tuesday night on a $500,000 bond.