Spokane Police use undercover officers to find, arrest man accused of attacking women at Manito Park
SPOKANE Wash.– The Spokane Police Department went to great lengths to find and arrest the man they think attacked two women at Manito Park.
Spokane Police said Devontaye Harden, 26, was arrested Thursday afternoon at Fairchild Air Force Base with the help of agents with the Office of Special Investigations. Military personnel said Harden is a Senior Airman at the base.
Harden is charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation. He is being held on a $1,000 bond.
Two women told police he ran up behind them, grabbed them inappropriately and ran off Thursday morning. Officers said one of the people he grabbed was an adult and the other was under the age of 18. The first incident happened near 17th and Grand. Nearly two hours later, police say the second attack occurred near the conservatory.
The officer that responded to the call came up with an idea to catch the man.
“The officer was concerned that this might be a start of a pattern. That these could be additional events, maybe behavior escalating,” said Cpl. Nick Briggs with the Spokane Police Department.
The officer mentioned going undercover to find the suspect. Police said the next day they sent undercover officers to Manito Park. Briggs said they made contact with Harden after he displayed “suspicious behavior.” They identified him as a person of interest.
Investigators then worked to figure out whether or not Harden was the person who attacked the women at the park. They did multiple interviews and processed digital evidence to determine Harden was the man they were looking for. They also worked with the Office of Special Investigations to reach this conclusion.
“So as much as we want to solve this incident quickly to protect the public, we have a duty to do a thorough investigation to make sure we do reach that level of probable cause before we arrest somebody,” Briggs said.
An extensive investigation led SVU detectives to determine there was probable cause to arrest Harden.
“Spokane’s parks and outdoor spaces are one of the many redeeming qualities to the City. Everyone should feel safe utilizing these attractions, and it is important to note these incidents are extremely rare in our community,” Spokane Police said in a release. “If incidents which jeopardize public safety and undermine the community’s sense of security do occur, SPD is committed to utilizing creative and exhaustive investigative techniques to find those responsible and hold them accountable. ”
Fairchild Air Force Base sent this statement about his arrest:
“The Air Force and Fairchild Air Force Base take these allegations very seriously. Behavior of this kind has no place in our ranks. We emphasize a culture of respect and uphold our Airmen to high standards.”
Briggs said right now, they only know of the two women who were attacked. He said there isn’t an indication there were more.
He said incidents like this are rare, but reminded people to always be aware of their surroundings.
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