A murder in North Spokane overnight led police to a home in Nine Mile Falls where police tried to question the murder suspect and ended up shooting and killing him.
Officers had responded to the 1500 block of West Grace Avenue and found the murder victim, identified late Thursday afternoon as Cyrus Jones, 33, lying in the street barely alive.
"Upon arrival we did find one male with what appears to be a life threatening gun shot wound to his chest. Medics arrived, he's subsequently been transported to the hospital in critical condition," Spokane Police Lieutenant Dean Sprague said.
While doctors at Sacred Heart Medical Center tried to save the victim's life police got busy preserving evidence at the crime scene. Patrolmen found shell casings at the street and detectives quickly learned this was no random shooting.
"For now we've just locked it down. We're interviewing neighbors and people who know our victim. He happens to live in the area," Sprague said.
One of Jones's friends witnessed this fatal shooting. Apparently he happened to be heading eastbound on Grace when the confrontation happened and, because he saw the shooting, witnesses said the driver of the pickup truck tried to run him over but he managed to escape by running onto a nearby playground.
Neighbors said Jones lived in a house in the neighborhood along with his pregnant girlfriend. Early Thursday morning he was walking down Grace Avenue when he was confronted by a man in a pickup. Someone yelled stop and then witnesses reported hearing several shots.
"I looked out my window and I could see a perfect outline and there was like a black- looking truck taking off," a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for her safety, said. "You could hear the tires burning as he took off."
Jones has a criminal history for a number of offenses, including theft, burglary and armed robbery.
"The guy that died, I reported him for beating up his girlfriend and breaking her phone out in front," the neighbor said.
Police, aided by witnesses who identified the suspect and the truck he was driving, developed information the suspect had fled to a home on Charles Road in the Nine Mile Falls area.
45 minutes after the fatal shooting on Grace Avenue police officers made their way to that home on Charles Road. Believing the suspect was armed, officers set up a perimeter and called in back-up around 2:15 a.m.
"As the officers were waiting for these resources an individual believed to be the homicide suspect exited the house and shut off the lights," Police Chief Frank Straub said.
The suspect came out of the home, confronted officers and failed to follow commands. At least one officer fired shots at the suspect, who died at the scene.
"I compliment the bravery of our officers and the very quick response to initial incident and then to Charles Road," Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said.
It's not known yet how the situation escalated to the point where officers fired their service weapons at the suspect. It's also not known yet how many officers were actually involved in the shooting.
"I know those are questions everyone wants to know. Who fired first? What happened? Those are the things we are trying to figure out right now," Spokane County Sheriff Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.
Local law enforcement agencies investigating both shootings know the public wants answers but right now they can't divulge too many details since it's still very early on in the investigation.
"We have to document everything and put the puzzle together so that once we are done with the investigation and done with the scene we have collected all we can to make this puzzle complete," Chamberlin said.
Because Spokane police officers were involved in the shooting, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office has taken over as the lead agency for the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team and is investigating the officer-involved shooting on Charles Road.
Chief Straub said a pellet gun an a .380 semi-automatic pistol were recovered from the suspect's home. Straub said two, .380 shell casings were collected as evidence at the Grace Avenue crime scene.
The officers, who have not been identified, that were involved in the Charles Road shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in the wake of an officer-involved shooting.
"I stand by our officers a hundred percent. I applaud their bravery. I applaud their quick response," added Chief Straub.
This is the second shooting involving Spokane police officers this year. On February 5, Officer Adam Valdez shot and killed Jacob Dorfman, 52, in front of Huckleberry's on the South Hill after he fired his pistol and led police on a chase.