Cpl. Ronald Van Tassel
Monday, August 10, 2020 at 8:54 a.m.
On Sunday morning a male went through downtown threatening numerous people, assaulting a couple and threatened another with a handgun.
On August 9, 2020 Officers responded to the area of Riverfront park on reports of a male (44 year old Jason Whitaker) with a firearm. Whitaker was supposed to be close to the clock tower and threatening another male with the gun. Officers swarmed the area and quickly located Whitaker, who chose to drop the firearm as Officers were approaching.
While conducting the investigation, Officers were contacted by several witnesses who shed some light on Whitaker’s behavior this morning. It started around Main and Howard where Whitaker confronted a random stranger. Whitaker started to yell at the male and accused him of being an undercover Cop and that he was going to kill him.
Whitaker then started to walk towards the park and went up to another random person and took their backpack from them. Whitaker started to flee the area and the victim pursued. The victim caught up to Whitaker and tried to retrieve the backpack. Whitaker punched that male, knocking him to the ground and leaving him in an almost un-conscious state. Whitaker then got on top of the male and continued to assault him.
Other people yelled at Whitaker to stop the assault. Whitaker told one of the males that he was going to get a gun, come back, and kill him. Whitaker then left the area. Minutes later he returned, close to the clock tower. Whitaker had a handgun in his hand and was waiving it around, threatening people. Moments later Officers from the Spokane Police downtown unit arrived and detained Whitaker.
Officers noted that Whitaker was showing signs of being under the influence of drugs. Whitaker did have Methamphetamine in his possession. The firearm Whitaker had was a .22 caliber handgun and was reported stolen. Whitaker has a previous conviction in Washington for Arson and is prohibited from having a firearm. Whitaker was booked into jail for the following charges:
-1st Robbery for forcibly taking the backpack from another person.
-2nd Assault for pointing the firearm at another person.
-1st Unlawful possession of a firearm (felon in possession).
-Possession of a stolen firearm.
-Possession of a controlled substance (Methamphetamine)
More charges may come in the future as there are outstanding witnesses and victims to this incident. If you were a victim of the incident from this morning, please call crime check at 509.456.2233 and reference case #2020-20137314
Officer John O'Brien