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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Congressional candidate Michael Baumgartner films impromptu campaign ad at scene of suspected murder in Spokane

Spokane County Treasurer and congressional candidate Michael Baumgartner films for a campaign ad spot near the scene of a shooting that had occurred just hours before.  (Image uploaded to Facebook by Ma Mika)

Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner, who is running to represent Eastern Washington in Congress, was preparing for a day of filming campaign ads Thursday morning to highlight various themes for his campaign, including public safety.

The issue was made unexpectedly salient by the suspected murder of a man just hours earlier and less than a block away from the café where Baumgartner was meeting with seniors to film a discussion about inflation and taxes. Seeing the nexus to his messaging, the candidate stepped outside less than 100 feet from where a man had been shot and spoke to the camera about the rise in violent crime.

“We had a planned shoot at the coffee shop there; it was already planned for the campaign, but with the violence that took place there, it just highlights how we need to push back on the liberal agenda to defund the police,” Baumgartner said.

Spokane’s police, at least, have not been defunded. The Spokane Police Department’s budget has expanded significantly in recent years, a major contributor to the city’s budget deficit. Baumgartner recently held a news conference to criticize Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown’s proposal to ask voters to raise property taxes in order to avoid deep cuts in police personnel, among other at-risk areas of the city budget.

But Baumgartner argued that statewide policies, including restricting the police’s ability to engage in vehicle pursuits, had sent the message that “criminals are more important than victims of crime, which has contributed to the problem.”

Statewide, those restrictions were loosened this year by the state Legislature to pre-empt a citizen’s initiative, though this action will not come into affect until June.

While violent crime has been decreasing across the nation, it’s true that Washington has been trending in the wrong direction, according to the FBI’s crime database. The state’s violent crime rate jumped 26% from 2012 to 2022, while homicides increased by 58%.

Baumgartner said he would work to increase public safety if he was elected to Congress.

“We would back our police, and a lot of the violence is stemming from the open border, which I saw this week when I was there with President Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security (Chad Wolf),” Baumgartner said. “Anyone that opposes closing the border is part of the problem, and certainly the defund the police movement has sent the wrong message.”

Spokane Police Department officials on Thursday announced that the suspect arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder was 28-year-old Caleb N. Carder.