A Spokane Police Department Gang Intelligence Officer described the killing of a 15-year-old in a drive-by shooting as “senseless.”
SPOKANE, Wash — Court documents suggest that a drive-by shooting in Spokane last week that killed a 15-year-old was gang related.
The victim’s parents told police their son had been harassed by gang members who were trying to get him to join.
KREM’s Taylor Viydo spoke with a member of the Spokane Police Department’s Gang Intelligence Unit about if this shooting could have been prevented.
When you first heard what happened, what ran through your mind?
“It’s heartbreaking. The kid’s 15 years old. Nobody should ever have to see that. No parent should ever have to bury their child. And it was over what? I don’t know. There are rumors going around and obviously it’s an ongoing investigation. But, you’re talking about a man who spent 15 years of his life, not even an adult yet, not even at that point in life where he gets to see his family, his parents get to see him grow up and have children and move on. It’s heartbreaking. I know every officer out here has stories they can tell you, these things that aren’t fair. It’s senseless. There’s no reason for it. These things should never happen.”
In court documents, parents of the victim mentions that threats were made towards their son. Could anything have been done to prevent this?
“The one thing that I’ve learned in this job is that when anything happens in this department, or a critical incident, we always look back on what we could do better. And that’s one of those moments where I think taking a little pause, people – cooler heads, and coming together and figuring out what a solution could be. We’re at a point now where everybody seems to be yelling at everybody and nobody is listening. Nobody wants to sit there and go ‘I screwed up,’ or ‘This is how we could do things better.’ I think taking a moment and looking at your loved ones, giving them a hug, and telling you you love them is the easier thing to do.”
You and your colleagues won’t let the boy’s death slip by, I take it? You’re continuing to follow up on the case?
“Obviously with things going on, people may want to say things about me and my colleagues here at the police department. I work with the best men and women in the world. There is not a single day that I don’t come to work and am not proud to put on my badge, or go out there and work the streets. Spokane is a special place. We moved here 20 years ago and laid down roots and have seen what the potential is. I think all of the negativity is kind of something you push past. And we’re going to keep fighting for what’s right. We’re going to take care of our citizens, we’re going to do what’s right. We’re going to make sure that the people are proud of their police department. And I think they are, I think they really are. A lot of us spend and do multiple jobs. That’s uncommon in a department this large, but we’re happy to do it because – it’s not a job for us, it’s what we kind of are in a sense.”
I take it the two suspects who were arrested within a day speaks to some of the work being done behind the scenes?
“You’re talking about major crimes, patrol officers, crime analysis, targeted crime, SIU, all of them came together and the Safe Streets Task Force, all came together and saw what happened. It didn’t have to be just this that happened. This happens on a daily basis. People work to make sure the community is safe. It’s a testament to the great department we have here – and the sheriff’s department, they jumped in and helped right away too.”
While a 15-year-old died, is there a sense of accomplishment in this case because suspects were arrested?
“It’s really easy to get stuck in the mud and do the ‘boo-hoo is me’ kind of thing and say everything is bad, but there are people out there that are still working hard to make sure our community is safe. That’s a testament to not only them, but to the character of Spokane. We’re going to keep doing it. Have we had success stories? Absolutely. Have we had failures? Absolutely. But the one thing I’ve learned in this job, working with the people I work with is that nobody gives up. I’ve never seen somebody not do their job because they’re tired of it.”