Police seek gunman in deadly shooting at hotel
September 14, 2012 - Updated: 6:55 a.m.
Spokane police were working Thursday night to find a suspect in a deadly shooting outside a downtown Spokane hotel.
A fight that broke out in the parking lot of the Days Inn Hotel at 120 W. Third Ave. escalated into a shooting, killing one man and leaving Spokane police scrambling to find a suspect who fled the scene.
The shooting comes at a time when the department is completely “tapped out” for resources following several unsolved homicides in Spokane and the recent fatal shooting by Spokane Valley deputies, said Lt. Joe Walker.
Officers responded at 4:02 a.m. to a 911 call reporting five to six gunshots fired and found the victim, police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said, describing him as a black man in his 30s who was not from Spokane. The body remained in the parking lot for hours after the shooting while detectives processed the scene.
While detectives withheld information about a possible suspect, DeRuwe confirmed they are investigating whether the Thursday morning shooting was connected to a separate shooting incident Wednesday afternoon on the South Hill.
In that case, witnesses reported seeing a man with a gun riding a red scooter near 33rd Avenue and Thor Street. The man got into a verbal altercation with three teens and fired shots that struck a parked van before he fled the area. A red scooter had been reported stolen earlier that afternoon.
A red scooter was found near the scene of the Thursday morning shooting. It has been confiscated as part of the case, DeRuwe said.
Detectives also found a handgun several feet away from the body in the parking lot, but investigators had not determined whether it was the homicide weapon, she said.
Walker said investigators have information on a possible suspect, and that information was given to patrol officers to make sure they are prepared if they find the vehicle that took the shooter from the scene.
“We don’t want officers to stumble into something they don’t know about,” Walker said. “We’ll get information out to the public about the suspect as soon as we verify it.”
One of the license plate numbers given by witnesses turned out to be wrong, he said. Witnesses said two vehicles left the hotel after the shooting.
“A few people definitely took off,” he said.
Early in the investigation, detectives arrested a man at the Days Inn, DeRuwe said.
“He had an active warrant,” she said. “He will be questioned, but it’s not clear whether he is involved.”
Detectives initially restricted guests from leaving. By about 7:30 a.m., detectives allowed guests to drive away from the parking lot.
Detectives obtained search warrants for two rooms and spent most of the day processing the scene.
The case was assigned to Major Crimes Detective Jeff Barrington, but Walker had to call in detectives from the drug unit, property crimes, sex crimes and two traffic investigators.
“Obviously, with a murder we have to bring in all the resources we have,” Walker said.
“I don’t have anything to compare it to,” he said, referring to the 800-plus homicides, robberies, felony assaults and other cases that major crimes detectives have been asked to review.
“It’s been a rough year to say the least,” he said. “We will be working this case 100 percent and all these types of cases. These guys need to be off the street.”
Reporter Chelsea Bannach contributed to this report.