NORTH SPOKANE-- A man fatally shot himself after police say he fired at two Spokane County deputies during a traffic stop.
Narcotics detectives asked the deputies to pull over a felon they believed to be in a SUV around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday near Elm Street and Newport Highway.
As soon as the SUV stopped, suspected shooter Charles Wallace jumped out from the front passenger seat and began firing at the deputies. Both of them sustained gunshot wounds, but they were able to return fire. They did not hit Wallace.
The driver of the SUV sped away with a female and child in the back seat. Wallace fled on foot.
Two bystanders rushed over and found Deputies Matt Spink and Michael Northway on the ground. The Good Samaritans compressed the wounds as they waited for emergency crews. Deputy Northway suffered two shots to the arms and two to the leg, and Deputy Spink had one wound in his leg. Both witnesses describe the deputies as coherent as paramedics arrived on scene.
Responding officers found the SUV unoccupied nearby at Division and Graves streets. They used K-9 unit to track the area, but no one was located.
A few blocks away near 9800 North Andrews, an elderly woman called police to report her Honda Accord had just been stolen. Police say Wallace forced his way into her home and demanded her car keys. The 85-year-old woman chased the suspect out of the house, hitting him with her cane. Wallace, who was armed with a gun, reportedly stole the vehicle and fled again. The woman was uninjured.
As law enforcement flooded the area searching for the Accord, witnesses were calling in possible sightings. A Spokane Police Department detective observed Wallace driving the car on Big Meadows Road. When Wallace approached the detective, he fired at the officer but missed. Wallace continued to exhibit extremely dangerous behavior, reportedly having no regard for the safety of citizens and law enforcement alike. He appeared to be very determined to avoid being caught, according to police, remembering he was already a wanted criminal before the shooting.
Officials then located the suspect driving the stolen car on Highway 2 near Big Meadows Road, where a pursuit began. Police deployed Air One to keep tabs on Wallace, as authorities chased him through the streets. Citizens yielded to the numerous law enforcement officers actively attempting to stop Wallace, which authorities said was critical to their efforts.
When Wallace made it to Deer Park, a SCSO detective fired at the suspect in an effort to stop him. Spike strips were then deployed by nearby officers in order to disable the stolen vehicle. Wallace continued driving the car with malfunctioning tires, but the chase ended when the car struck a guard rail. After, Wallace committed suicide with a single gunshot wound to the head.
Police maintained several active scenes throughout the evening as they continued to search for more suspects. They have not confirmed more suspects are involved other than Wallace.
They reportedly believed a suspect could have been hiding in a home in the 900 block of East Princeton. Three people were briefly held after police evacuated them from a house in that area. One of the men detained told KREM 2 police asked them to leave the home for their safety. They were handcuffed for a short time, and then released out of the crime scene. They are not considered suspects.
Four people were handcuffed later Thursday evening near Alcan and Price. Police questioned the four individuals, but they have not confirmed these four people are related to the shooting.
The Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team was activated to perform an investigation of this case. Members of the police department, the Washington State Patrol and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office are part of the team. Spokane Police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said every available officer is involved. Investigators will give more information as the investigation continues. DeRuwe went on to say, "When you fire at law enforcement, it shows you really have no regard for anyone around you."
In a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Knezovich questioned why Wallace was free with such a lengthy criminal history. He asked, "Why was this individual allowed on the streets and not in a jail where he should have been?” Knezovich added the U.S. Attorney's Office had fought against the release of Wallace from jail.
Sheriff Knezovich also stated that the gun Wallace used in the shooting had been stolen from a Liberty Lake home.
As of Wednesday morning, both deputies were listed in stable condition.
Police describe the day as extremely dynamic and rapidly unfolding. They are asking the community to help with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.