SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane police report two people are dead in a murder-suicide in a medical building in the 900 block of W. 5th Avenue near Deaconess Hospital.
Employees at the Rockwood Health and Education Building called 911 at 9:48 a.m. to report a man had walked into a seventh floor lab where his wife worked, shot her, and then turned the gun on himself.
Spokane police quickly arrived at the building and cordoned off the area in the immediate vicinity of the crime scene, and officers along with approximately a half-dozen paramedics, wearing ballistic vests and helmets, rushed into the building.
As officers secured the Cancer Care Center on the seventh floor, the paramedics rushed to render medical assistance to the shooter and the victim.
Sarah Lavigne was on the seventh floor visiting her mom when the shooting happened. It was already a bad day for her family, having recently found out her mom had cancer and Tuesday was her first appointment. Then, when a nurse burst into the exam room, her bad day got worse.
"You know we hear footsteps and screaming, and the nurse came running into our room and said there is a gunman, get down and don't open the door," she said.
Her two young kids, ages two and six, were also in the exam room, she quickly moved into action to protect her children.
"I grabbed my kids, pushed them into a corner and turned off the lights," she said. "I grabbed the bed and pushed it in front of the door, and I had them pretty much under me and I was stretched out from the wall to the bed so that if he tried to come in he couldn't."
What she didn't know was the gunman had fired several times at his wife, killing her, and then turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger. According to authorities, the shooter was alive when members of the Spokane Fire Department's rescue task force arrived
"Three teams in total, up to the sixth floor, staged them in a stairwell, as soon as the area was rendered safe by the police department we moved those assets up to the patients and they immediately started care," Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.
The shooter, who has not been identified, succumbed to his injuries a short time later. As for the shooting victim, she had been shot multiple times and the paramedics were unable to save her.
At 10:30 a.m., police confirmed during a media briefing that a man walked into the building, shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself.
"The preliminary information indicates this was a husband and wife. the husband came to his wife's place of employment, which is in this building here and shot her before turning the gun on himself," Spokane Police Capt. Dan Torok said.
Authorities also confirmed the couple had children; a police chaplain has been dispatched to notify their guardians.
The murder-suicide happened so quickly the building was never really evacuated so most patients with their own medical needs were still able to keep their appointments.
Spokane Major Crimes detectives are investigating the shooting. Until the medical examiner or Deaconess releases the names of the shooter and victim it won't be known if there was a history of domestic violence or if there were any court records for the couple for things like protection orders or divorce proceedings.
KXLY sources have confirmed that law enforcement officers had responded to the couple's home on a domestic call for service in the past.