Police in Idaho seek motive in downtown shootout
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Law enforcement officers in northern Idaho say they have at least five crime scenes to examine after a downtown shootout in Coeur d'Alene left one man dead and another injured.
The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, was shot and killed Saturday after opening fire on police officers at the end of a 5-mile car chase through Coeur d'Alene, located about 30 miles east of Spokane, Wash.
Kootenai County sheriff's Maj. Ben Wolfinger said it's not clear why the suspect started shooting. Investigators were withholding the man's name until his nearest family members were notified of his death.
The suspect reportedly shot one man in the chest before taking off in his car, randomly shooting at bystanders as he fled. Wolfinger said the chase stopped when the suspect lost control of the car and exchanged gunfire with officers. He was shot and died at the scene.
Police identified the man who was shot in the chest as 29-year-old Frank James of Coeur d'Alene. James was taken to Kootenai Medical Center for emergency surgery immediately after the shooting; the sheriff's office said Sunday his condition was unknown.
The man who was shot in the chest was taken to an area hospital for surgery and his condition wasn't available Sunday afternoon.
"We're still trying to put all the pieces together," Wolfinger said. "We don't even know how many witnesses we may have."
Rick Knoke, who lives in an apartment complex at the intersection where the earlier shooting occurred, said he was sitting outside and saw the violent confrontation.
A white four-door car pulled up and stopped, and the suspect in the case got out of the front passenger seat and fired two shots at a man in the back seat, Knoke said. The female driver and the shooting victim fled the car and ran for cover, and the shooter got in the driver's seat and took off, firing at residents in the area as he left, Knoke said.
"He was shooting at us," Knoke said. "It was duck and cover time."
The Interagency Critical Investigation Team, which is made up of officials from local agencies, will investigate the shooting, Wolfinger said. The sheriff's office is leading the investigation.
The names of the officers involved will not be released until they have been interviewed, he said, which will be within 72 hours. He declined to say how many officers fired their weapons.
"It is your worst nightmare, absolutely," Wolfinger said. "It had all the makings for a terrible tragedy. Fortunately, it wasn't as bad as it could have been."