Ofc. John O'Brien, PIO
Friday, April 20, 2018 at 2:49 p.m.
On April 18th, 2018 around 3:45 a.m., patrol officers were sent to 3500 E. Queen Ave. to a report of an arson involving a burning vehicle. Officers arrived within minutes but the suspect had fled the area in his truck. Prior to fleeing, the suspect pulled what appeared to be a firearm when a witness tried to intervene.
The victim of the arson reported she was able to identify the suspect as her ex-boyfriend, 31 years-old James Thomas III, because the flames from her burning vehicle illuminated his face.
A witness to the arson saw Thomas drive to the victim’s residence and set the victim’s vehicle on fire. The witness yelled at Thomas and Thomas reacted by pulling what appeared to be a firearm from his waistband. The witness feared for his life and fled into his house.
Officers developed probable cause to arrest Thomas for Arson 2nd degree Domestic Violence.
Later in the morning on the 18th, two officers from the Domestic Violence Unit were in the hallway outside court rooms on an unrelated matter. Thomas walked by the officers, who were not looking his direction, and commented he wasn’t the guy they were looking for. The officers looked up and called out Thomas’s name to which he replied and confirmed his identity. The officers took Thomas into custody.
Detectives and officers from the Domestic Violence Unit located a vehicle belonging to Thomas near the Spokane County Court House. The vehicle was seized, a search warrant was sought and granted by a judge.
The warrant was served on the vehicle which led to the discovery of a semi-automatic handgun that had been reported stolen. The white pickup was seized from Thomas’s residence as well.
Thomas is an eleven time convicted felon and is not able to legally possess a firearm. Three of his felony convictions are gun related offenses.
This is the fourth gun the Domestic Violence Unit has taken from perpetrators of a domestic violence act this year.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, reach out to the Spokane Police Department through Crime Check at (509)456-2233 or 911 for an emergency. Victims may seek additional help and resources through the YWCA Domestic Violence Advocates at (509)477-3656 or their 24 hour Crisis Line at (509)326-2255.