Spokane police shoot, injure man they say was threatening bystanders downtown with a knife

Feb. 12—Two Spokane Police officers shot and injured a 34-year-old man in downtown Spokane just past noon on Monday.

According to interim Spokane Police Chief Justin Lundgren, a Department of Corrections officer called police when his supervisee told him he was suicidal and armed with a knife. The man was walking down Riverside Avenue near Howard Street when he held the knife up to someone's throat and tried to hurt another bystander, Lundgren said. Officers immediately responded and tried "less lethal" techniques to take control of the man.

"The situation was very fluid," Lundgren told reporters at a press briefing nearby, adding that there was little time to de-escalate the situation because the downtown area is occupied with so many people. Members of the department's behavioral unit would normally respond to a suicidal person, but he said he wasn't sure yet if they were on scene.

Officers deployed their stun guns twice but couldn't subdue the man, Lundgren said. He said it was too early in the investigation to say whether the man lunged at officers or other bystanders when he was shot. Two officers fired four to five rounds, Lundgren said, and the man was immediately provided medical aid.

The man who was shot went into surgery at a local hospital, and an update on his condition or identity wasn't immediately available. No police officers were injured, and the Spokane Independent Investigative Response Team is currently investigating.

Below the skywalk over Howard Street also sat a heap of bloody clothes — a black hat, a black sweatshirt, a gray T-shirt and swatches of blue denim with jagged cuts along the edges and a man's ID sitting on top. Three pairs of medical scissors, a pair of handcuffs and black latex gloves were also scattered on the ground. Surrounding the clothing pile was a liquor bottle, a cellphone and bits of plastic wrap. A black riot shield was leaning against a nearby tree, along with a foldable knife.

Soulful Soups & Spirits, which is near shooting scene, posted on Facebook that the restaurant was temporarily closed because the road was blocked off. Restaurant owner Lauren D'Arienzo said that at the time she didn't see or hear anything, but guests in the restaurant told her a man outside was acting erratically.

Monday's police shooting marks the fourth in Spokane County in two weeks, and the second in one day.

Earlier Monday around 12:15 a.m., Spokane police shot and killed a man after they say he shot a woman at a northeast Spokane home a few blocks from Rogers High School.

The spate of shootings in the area is "very unusual," according to Lundgren.

Per protocol, officers who use or attempt to use deadly force are placed on administrative leave for a period of time while the investigation by another agency is conducted.

Reporter Nick Gibson contributed to this article.

Alexandra Duggan can be reached at (509) 459-5469 or by email at alexandrad@spokesman.com.