Police: Bear spray used in robberies

August 16, 2012 - Updated: 4:29 a.m.

A man wanted in violation of his probation on a manslaughter conviction conducted three separate robberies by either threatening or spraying victims with a can of bear spray as he fled the scenes, police say.

Spokane police on Tuesday arrested 29-year-old Jeffrey M. Matthews after he fled on foot after an employee at O’Reilly Auto Parts, 2424 N. Division St., reported that a man abandoned his car and fled after spraying bear spray at an employee inside the business.

The vehicle that was left at the business was later linked to two similar robberies on Friday and Saturday at the Trading Co., 13014 E. Sprague Ave., and Big Lots, 14024 E. Sprague Ave., in Spokane Valley.

Detective Jack Rosenthal previously interviewed the registered owner of the car, who admitted she was driving during the Spokane Valley robberies where bear spray was used, sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin wrote in a news release.

“She confirmed Matthews had committed both (Spokane Valley) robberies and several other crimes during his two-day crime spree,” Chamberlin wrote.

Matthews was booked into the Spokane County Jail on two counts of second-degree robbery. He also had a felony violation of probation warrant for a previous second-degree manslaughter conviction. Matthews pleaded guilty in 2007 in the 2005 death of his 22-year-old live-in girlfriend, Tonya Eisenhart.

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