SPOKANE, Wash. - An arson suspect was arrested early Wednesday morning after he set fire to his ex-girlfriend's car, but his day would only get worse as his mouth landed him with three additional felony charges.
Spokane Police officers were sent to the 3500 block of E. Queen Ave. around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday to the report of an arson involving a burning vehicle. By the time officers arrived, the suspect had already fled in his truck, but before leaving he had pulled out what appeared to be a gun when a witness tried to intervene.
The victim of the arson was able to identify the suspect as 31-year-old James Thomas III - her ex-boyfriend - because the flames from the car illuminated his face.
A witness told officers that Thomas drove to the victim's residence and set the car on fire. That witness yelled at Thomas who reacted by pulling what appeared to be a gun from his waistband. The witness said he feared for his life and returned to his house.
With the information the officers learned on the scene, they developed probable cause to arrest Thomas for arson second-degree domestic violence.
Later in the morning that day, two officers from the Domestic Violence Unit were in the hallway outside of courtrooms on an unrelated matter. Thomas walked by the officers, who were not paying attention to him, and said he wasn't the guy they were looking for. The officers called out Thomas's name to which he replied and confirmed his identity. He was then taken into custody.
Detectives and officers from the DVU located Thomas's vehicle near the Spokane County Court House. That vehicle was seized and a search warrant was granted by a judge.
The warrant led to the discovery of a semi-automatic handgun that had been reported stolen. The white pickup was seized from Thomas's residence as well.
Thomas is an 11-time convicted felon and is not able to legally possess a firearm. Three of his felony convictions are gun-related offenses.
This is the fourth gun the DVU has taken from perpetrators of a domestic violence act this year.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, reach out to the Spokane Police Department through Crime Check at (509)456-2233 or 911 for an emergency. Victims may seek additional help and resources through the YWCA Domestic Violence Advocates at (509)477-3656 or their 24-hour Crisis Line at (509)326-2255.
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