SPD arrests STA Plaza stabbing suspect

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by JENICA VILLAMOR, HAYLEY GUENTHNER & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 8 at 4:39 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.—One man was stabbed to death just before 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the STA Plaza near Riverside and Post in Downtown Spokane, according to Spokane police. After an intense search for the suspect, police took 40-year-old Donald Phillips into custody.

A witness said the victim was looking at bus times when someone ran up and stabbed the victim from behind in the chest. The victim was taken to the hospital. He died from his injuries. Police said they believed the victim was targeted.

The suspect had fled on foot after the stabbing, according to police.

Just before 5:30 p.m., a homeowner in Peaceful Valley called saying he had seen a male matching the suspect description at the corner of Main and Cedar, according to police. Officers responded to check the area and were flagged down by another homeowner. The second witness told officers the suspect had barged into his house and attempted to hold him at knifepoint, according to police.

Spokane Police then coordinated a house-to-house check in Peaceful Valley and were asking residents to stay inside unless contacted by police. They were asking Peaceful Valley residents not at home to find an alternate place to stay for the time being.  Police were searching for the homicide suspect.

Just after 9:00 p.m., the suspect, who had changed clothes, walked out of a yard on the north side of Main just west of Cedar, according to police. Officers said they were able to take him into custody without incident.

KREM 2 News spoke with a man, Chris Knapp, who Spokane Police said helped catch Phillips. Knapp lives in Peaceful Valley. He said he saw a suspicious man lurking between his home and another. Knapp confronted the man, and when the man reached into his pocket, Knapp said he forced him to the ground. Knapp said he pulled out a box cutter knife and alerted police. Spokane Police Captain Dan Torok said he actually shook Knapp's hand and thanked him for the help.

KREM 2 News spoke exclusively to Knapp.

WATCH: Spokane homeowner helps catch STA Plaza stabbing suspect


SWAT officers then made their way down the hill in the area he had come out of to check for evidence and discovered a house fire in the 1400 block of west Water. SWAT team members were initially able to get the fire out, but then called in additional Spokane Fire Department resources to help. The investigation into the exact cause of the fire was still underway Saturday night, but it was believed that Phillips was involved, according to Spokane police. Detectives were combing through the property early Sunday morning. The home did sustain some damage. Forensics were also there taking pictures of the scene.

Police said Phillips had an extensive and violent criminal history. He was also wanted on a felony Department of Corrections warrant.

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