Restaurants put on hold as shooting blocks highway


by Shawn Chitnis &

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 5:41 PM

SPOKANE -- The crime scene along Newport Highway closed off access to some businesses for several hours.  It also kept customers inside restaurants at the North Pointe Plaza.

The El Sombrero restaurant sits on the west side of Highway 2 just a block south from the shooting crime scene on Elm Street.  When police were surrounding the area, the staff was just coming on shift for the afternoon.

"I just remember looking up and seen a couple cop cars go by and then next time I look up, the whole street was full of police officers," said Amber Travis who works at El Sombrero.

Minutes later, Travis was seeing activity outside the restaurant.

"I have never seen that many cops in one place in my entire life."

Images of the scene created a shock for staff who were not even working at the time.

"We turned on the TV on and there was our restaurant," said Bonnie Hagen who also works at El Sombrero.  "The police cars and tape and I wondered what's going to happen to our restaurant."

The restaurant had to close early on what is normally a busy night for them.  Those who have worked in this area for years say they have never seen the highway come to a dead stop. 

Now that they are on the job again, they are thinking about those who are still trying to get back to work.

Other businesses farther south were able to stay open.  That is because customers could still access their lots or they already had enough people inside.