Sgt. Terry Preuninger
Friday, August 21, 2020 at 3:38 p.m.
Spokane Police Department Patrol Officers respond to a malicious mischief call and end up in a standoff with an arsonist perched on a cliff.
On August 20, at 8:54 PM SPD Patrol officers responded to a malicious mischief call at 1600 E Hartson. A male was walking up and down the street breaking car windows, the suspect appeared to be high or intoxicated.
When officers arrived, the suspect, later identified as Edmon Ling (35) fled to a vacant field north of Hartson, that overlooks Liberty Park and the Ben Burr trail below. The suspect went over the edge of a steep drop to a ledge about thirty feet below and began trying to light the hillside on fire. (It was later discovered he had a large homeless camp concealed under some trees on the ledge). From his camp, he crawled out to the edge of an even larger drop and grabbed onto a small tree, suspending himself above a 50 to 75 foot cliff above the park and trail below.
Officers began to try to talk Ling off the ledge, and get him to surrender. He began throwing softball size rocks at the officers and lighting the grass and brush on fire.
SPD Hostage negotiators, SPD SWAT and units from the Spokane Fire Department responded, to include the SFD’s technical rescue unit. SWAT Officers and SFD personnel used rescue and rappelling equipment to prepare for a potential rescue of the defendant, and secure themselves to the hillside.
SPD SWAT and Negotiators spent hours trying to de-escalate the situation. The defendant continued to throw rocks, bouncing one off a shield held by an officer, and made more attempts to light fires. His only response to the negotiators during the hour’s long standoff was threats to commit violent criminal acts against the wives and mothers of the officers on the scene.
A police drone was used to monitor the suspect’s condition and position on the ledge.
Eventually he moved a few feet farther down the cliff and tied himself off to a small tree with a short strap. He then began to throw rocks down the hill to the trail below where SFD and police were staged to treat him if he fell.
At about 1:00 AM the defendant surrendered and was taken into custody without incident. He was charged with Malicious Mischief 2nd , Assault 3rd , Arson 2nd and obstructing.
Officer John O'Brien