SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police are crediting STA's surveillance cameras and the bus plaza's security staff with giving them some very powerful evidence in a murder at the plaza, the first since it was built in 1995.
The attack against Sean Oie, which was caught on STA surveillance cameras, triggered a six-hour manhunt that involved the SWAT team and house-to-house searches in Peaceful Valley. As they were searching, they had a very clear picture of who they were looking for thanks to STA surveillance cameras.
The surveillance video was accessed and then used by STA's security staff to help put a face on Oie's killer: Donald Phillips.
"The attacker came in very shortly afterwards and walked right past them without even looking at them but then he doubled back behind a plant and came up and surprised them," STA CEO Susan Meyer said. "He stabbed him and walked away."
Oie backpedaled and turned to run but collapsed within 30 feet. Phillips pursues him but once he realizes Oie is mortally wounded he calmly walks away.
That's when STA security staff played a critical role in identifying the attacker.
"First we focused on the incident and then we went to did we see him walk away from the plaza? And our security officers said that they did and that it didn't appear that he got on a bus which we thought at first," Meyer said.
STA security then went to a bus that the suspect walked by, pulled it out of service and its cameras recorded an even clearer image of the killer including a tattoo on his left forearm that Spokane Police officers recognized as belonging to Donald Phillips.
Police tweeted out his description and City Councilman Jon Snyder spotted Phillips behaving suspiciously in Peaceful Valley.
"He saw that I was on the phone and he said 'Who are you calling? Are you calling police?' And I said 'No, do you need me to call the police?' And he said 'Nope, I don't need police," Snyder said.
Donald Phillips is being held in the Spokane County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.