The Washington State Patrol has identified the man who was shot by Spokane Police Thursday night. Investigators say 29-year old Aaron Johnson refused to respond to commands to drop a knife and advanced towards officers.
The incident began inside the Truth Ministries shelter on East Sprague where he had been staying for the last several days. Witnesses say Johnson became agitated because volunteers at the shelter asked him to check in his bag.
"My volunteer looked at it and said, 'No, we got to check this in, it's gonna have to get locked up,'" said shelter director Marti McKinney. "He started to take it back to where the baggage guy takes it and locks it up and that's when he snapped."
McKinney says Johnson had been acting strangely the last several days. But, Thursday night, things escalated dramatically.
"You know he had a 4x4 he was waving around, he was threatening people with that," said McKinney.
Volunteers convinced Johnson to leave, then called police. When officers arrived, they say Johnson had traded his piece of wood for a knife.
"We attempted to use a taser and that individual continued his aggressive behavior toward our officers," said Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub.
"They took action they believed was appropriate to protect themselves and the community."
Witnesses report hearing several gunshots.
"It sounded like seven or eight shots. It was pretty loud," said Jeff Davis who was in a bar near Truth Ministries when the shooting happened.
Immediately after the shooting, officers put away their guns in favor of bandages to help Johnson.
"One of the officers on the scene had first aid equipment in his trunk. He used that first aid equipment," said Chief Straub. "The incident actually happened next to a fire house."
Johnson was transported to Sacred Heart and is expected to survive his injuries.
Now, McKinney is upgrading his surveillance to cover the alley, something he says he wishes he had already done. He wants the public to know police did everything they could to make the situation safe.
"As far as I am concerned, as far as Truth Ministries is concerned, the police department handled everything exactly the way it should have been handled," said McKinney.
The Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team is now investigating the shooting. Johnson will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The officers' names should be released next week.