SPOKANE, Wash. - Police are looking for a woman who witnesses saw being assaulted Sunday morning in East Central Spokane.
Witnesses called 911 around 11:00 a.m. to report a man-- now identified as Ryan Whyte-- was assaulting the woman while holding a gun to her head near 2300 E. 1st Ave. Callers said they had previously heard a gunshot in the area.
When police got there, neither Whyte nor the woman were at the scene but witnesses provided a description of both Whyte and a car they believed belonged to him.
An officer later spotted that car a few blocks away, at the gas station at 2nd and Thor. A man matching Whyte's description was found near the car.
When contacted by an officer, police said Whyte was slow to follow directions and looked like he may jump into the car and attempt to get away. Instead, officers said Whyte decided to follow their commands but not before locking the car.
Police said a spent shell casing was found sitting on the back of Whyte's car. Officers observed what looked like the barrel of a rifle under a coat inside the car.
The woman witnesses described being assaulted still had not been found. Officers checked the vehicle to make sure she was not inside, before seizing it while they waited for a search warrant.
Investigators at the original scene, on 2300 E. 1st, found a bullet strike on the ground and gained probable cause to arrest Whyte for drive-by shooting. After he was booked into the Spokane County Jail, police found Whyte was already under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security on suspicion of illegally mailing the drug fentanyl.
Whyte's mother, Christine Whyte, told 4 News Now her son suffers from schizophrenia and is using meth. His mother, who lives in Florida, said she's begged police and prosecutors to have her son's firearms removed.
"With his mental illness he is somebody that should not own guns because you know, we can't predict the outcome of what gun ownership when it's in the wrong hands of someone who's using drugs," she said.
Whyte's mother said she hit dead ends everywhere she searched for help until a Spokane County deputy told her over the weekend about an extreme risk protection order, which allows family members to file a petition. If approved by a judge, a person is ordered to surrender their firearms.
"I would have done that a long time ago," Whyte's other said. She believes the shooting and alleged assault could have been prevented.
If Whyte is convicted of the felony charge, it would be illegal for him to posses any firearm.
Police are still looking for the woman who may have been assaulted. Anyone with information that may be helpful to investigators is asked to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.
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