Suspect Arrested for Armed Robbery & Assault after a Pursuit
Spokane Valley Deputies arrested 22-year-old Tyler J. Thomas for Robbery 1st Degree, Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Vehicle and Assault 2nd (2 counts) after a victim reported his vehicle was stolen by the suspect at gunpoint.
On March 18, 2017, at approximately 1:15 a.m., Spokane Valley Deputies responded to a report of a victim’s car being stolen at gunpoint from the parking lot of East Valley High School. While responding to the call, Deputy Keys observed a vehicle matching the description given by the victim in the area of Trent and Pines.
As Deputy Keys turned around to check on the vehicle, it accelerated to a high rate of speed. As Thomas continued to try and evade near University, he suddenly slid the vehicle sideways in front of oncoming vehicles and began traveling eastbound, right past Deputy Keys’ patrol car which had the emergency lights activated.
During the pursuit, Thomas drove into the oncoming lane and continued to drive erratically, risking his safety, as well as the deputies’ and the other motorist’s safety on the roadway. Each time P.I.T. maneuvers were attempted, Thomas would intentionally swerve toward patrol vehicles, causing deputies to take extreme evasive action to avoid being struck. Thomas’s action continued to escalate as he swerved across multiple lanes of travel forcing several westbound vehicles to swerve off the road or come to a complete stop to avoid a collision.
Thomas recklessly drove into the parking lot of Valley Bar and Grill after losing control as he turned north on Cement from Trent. With the business still open with customers and citizens in the area, Thomas accelerated and drove directly toward Deputy Keys’ vehicle in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to hit him.
Thomas exited the parking lot and continued to drive recklessly and at a high rate of speed as he fled westbound on Trent as deputies ahead of the pursuit attempted to block intersections and warn citizens of the approaching danger.
Just north of Trent on Fancher, Thomas lost control again, spun and ended up facing south sitting on a partially raised concrete divider. At this point, after several unsuccessful attempts to end the pursuit safely, fearing for the safety of the public and deputies and coupled with information which led deputies to believe Thomas was armed, had just stolen the vehicle from a victim at gunpoint, the fact he had attempted to collide with deputies during the pursuit and his obvious intent to flee regardless of who or how seriously he could injure anyone, Sergeant Elliott hit the vehicle in the driver’s door area in an attempt to disable the Mustang and stop Thomas from fleeing. Due to the low speeds of the impact, Thomas was able to accelerate and continue to flee.
Deputy Eaton attempted another P.I.T. maneuver which was unsuccessful and Thomas continued southbound. Additional deputies arrived in the area and, using their vehicles, were able to completely box Thomas in and stop his extremely dangerous attempt to escape.
Thomas complied with commands and was safely taken into custody. A search of the vehicle did not locate the firearm reportedly used during the robbery however, later in the day at approximately 1:30 p.m., a citizen reported finding a Sig Sauer 9mm in the 11400 block of East Trent. The weapon, believed to have been thrown from the vehicle during the pursuit, was recovered by a deputy and booked into evidence.
The juvenile victim, who was uninjured, told deputies he thought a vehicle might have been following him as he drove North on Sullivan. He turned east on Wellesley and then into the high school parking lot and noticed the vehicle still behind him. The vehicle, believed to be a white Ford pickup, sped up and cut him off. A suspect got out of the vehicle and approached him pointing a black semi-auto pistol at his head and ordered him to get out of the vehicle. The suspect patted him down, took his cell phone and ordered him to walk out onto the soccer fields. The suspect jumped in the victim’s vehicle and sped way along with Ford truck.
The second suspect, driving the Ford truck, has not yet been identified.
Thomas was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Robbery 1st Degree, Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Vehicle and Assault 2nd (2 counts) and additional charges may be filed as the investigation continues.
Two of the patrol cars received enough damage (initial estimate at $4000 total) to be taken out of service until repaired. No deputies or citizens were injured during this incident.
Anyone with information regarding this incident or can help investigators identify the second suspect involved is urged to call Major Crimes Detective Marc Melville at 509-477-3325.