SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane Police Department is chasing down leads and suspects in what was the most violent New Year's holiday weekend in more than a decade.
It started Sunday night when a longtime Spokane criminal was gunned down in the doorway of his home at Wall and Spofford. Police are still looking for the suspect in that case.
A teenage girl was shot during a drive-by shooting at a New Year's Eve party at a home at Joseph and Rockwell in North Spokane. That gunman is also still on the loose.Straub on holiday violence
Just hours before that incident two men were shot, one of them fatally, at the Neighborhood Grocery store near Euclid and Market in Hillyard.
None of these shootings were random acts; all of the players in these shootings knew each other. In fact two of the people involved at the grocery store shooting are reportedly cousins, and given those close connections its nearly impossible for police to proactively prevent this type of violence.
Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said people who live crime-free lives should not be worried about their safety as it relates to our latest round of shootings.
Friends say before the murder at the Neighborhood Grocery in Hillyard the gunman and victim were fighting about a woman earlier in the evening. Witnesses say by the time the bullets started flying outside the store the argument had shifted to drugs.
"That was basically an argument that went bad. My understanding is that both individuals knew each other and one person decided to settle the argument by shooting the other," Chief Straub said.
Later that night someone fired more than a dozen rounds at people attending a New Year's Eve party in North Spokane. The shooting that put a teenage girl in the hospital was also preceded by fights that later escalated into gunfire.
"I think its a scary statement about where we are as a nation. We settle arguments now by going from zero to a hundred and we take out a gun and we shoot people. That's unacceptable behavior. The police department is going to do what it can to end that behavior," Straub said.
In the case of the drive-by shooting, police concede they had heard many complaints about big parties in the home where the teen was shot. Straub wishes he had more officers to keep parties from growing out of control but he also wishes parents would do a better job supervising their own kids.
"We have to get back to parental responsibility," Straub said. "Where are your kids? What time are they supposed to be coming home? Who are they hanging out with where are they going?"
Chief Straub said you can attribute most of Spokane's violent crimes to gangs and drugs and that's where he expects his restructured police department will have the greatest impact in 2013.
"My commitment is you're going to see Spokane to be one of the safest mid-sized cities in the United States. That's my commitment to the community. That's what I got hired to do," he said.
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