SPOKANE, Wash. -
Spokane Valley deputies responded to a robbery at the Walmart on East Sprague Wednesday night and ended up catching the suspect with some help from the air.
A loss prevention employee noticed 28-year-old Benjamin Lassey walk into the store around 9:00 p.m. and try to steal some merchandise. The employee recognized Lassey from previous interactions and knew he had been tresspassed from the premesis.
The employee says when he confronted Lassey, Lassey kicked him and ran through the parking lot into a black 4-door sedan with dark tinted windows. The employee called 911 and gave a description of the car.
The Sheriff's Air 2 helicopter happened already be flying over the area, and was able to spot the car and track it from the air. Deputies, with information from Air 2, caught up with the car near Thor and Freya and conducted a high-risk traffic stop because they were concerned those inside could be armed.
The driver, later identified at 38-year-old Kyle A. Kirk, was cooperative when stopped by deputies and followed their commands. While searching Kirk for weapons, Deputy Lundgren found a switchblade knife in his front pocket. Kirk was then handcuffed and placed in a patrol car while deputies dealt with Lassey, who was still in the car.
Deputies say Lassey was "reaching around inside the vehicle," but they couldn't see what he was doing because of the tinted windows. In a release, the Sheriff's office said, "Deputies did not know if Lassey was armed, trying to access a weapon or attempting to hide evidence," so they shot out one of the cars windows with a non-lethal shotgun ammunition.
Lassey then began to comply and was taken into custody. A deputy found a loaded flare gun in his jacket(pictured above), which had been painted black to look like a real firearm. He also had a baggie containing a black tar-like substance consistent with heroin. Deputies then performed a field sobriety test which Lassey failed.
Kirk later explained to deputies that Lassey had asked him to drive him to the Walmart and wait in the car. He said he "had no idea of what happened inside." Lassey later confirmed Kirk was unaware of the robbery attempt.
Lassey was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail for burglary, drug possession, obstructing, and three charges he had outstanding warrants for. Kirk was issued a criminal citation for Possession of a Dangerous Weapon and released at the scene.
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