A very tense standoff with an armed, wanted suspect ended after SWAT officers entered the building as the suspect was still refusing to leave. Phillip Booher (49) led a Washington State Trooper on a vehicle pursuit after pointing a firearm at the Trooper. The pursuit ended in downtown at a gas station in the 1400 block of west 2nd when the suspect fled on foot into the station. The clerk and others inside were able to safely evacuate while officers set up a perimeter around the store.
At approximately 5:30pm this evening, a Washington State Patrol Trooper working an emphasis patrol stopped a vehicle with three occupants in it. The driver, an adult female, was identified quickly. A male in the right, rear passenger seat, who had not been wearing his seatbelt, didn’t appear to be forthcoming about his name, so the Trooper asked him to step out of the vehicle. As the male, later identified as Booher, got out, he pointed a gun at the Trooper and told him he was not going back to jail.
Booher then reentered the vehicle at which point the driver and another adult male, who had been in the front passenger seat, exited the car. Booher got into the driver’s seat and led the Trooper on a vehicle chase into downtown. During the chase, he pointed the gun out the window at officers. At one point after fleeing the vehicle on foot, it appeared as though he was trying to carjack civilians downtown, but then he ran into the gas station on the northeast corner of Walnut/2nd. There were several people inside the store, including the store clerk, who were able to safely escape before he barricaded himself inside.
Law enforcement from WSP, SPD, and the Sheriff’s Office set up a perimeter around the store and started calling in resources in an attempt to safely take Booher into custody. AMR medics, Spokane Fire Department, Hostage Negotiators, the Explosives Disposal Unit, K9 officers, and the SWAT Team were all brought to the scene in an effort to take this to peaceful resolution.
Negotiators spent over an hour trying to talk Booher out of the business. Just after 7:00pm, Booher started to light things on fire inside of the store. SWAT Units then inserted chemical agent into the store in an attempt to force the him out but unfortunately, Booher chose to remain there. SWAT Officers within view of the store advised the smoke from the fire appeared to be getting thicker, so a plan was put in place to attempt to safely fight the fire though Booher was still telling Negotiators he would shoot the first officer he saw.
Over the next several hours, negotiators continued to talk with Booher urging him to peaceably leave the building but he refused. The fire became concerning enough tenants of the nearby Tiki Lodge Motel were evacuated to STA buses for their safety. Avista crews responded to assist with concerns about power in the area.
Booher continued to resist all efforts to get him to come out and insisted officers come in the station to help him. A number of tactical measures were implemented to ensure everyone’s safety. Just after 11:30pm, SWAT officers moved in and took Booher into custody. He was treated by medics at the scene and then transported to an area hospital where he will be treated prior to being booked into jail.
Booher will be booked on the following charges: 1st Degree Assault, Attempt to Elude Police, 1st Degree Burglary, 1st Degree Arson, and other possible charges as the investigation continues. He will also be booked on an unrelated warrant for 2nd Degree Burglary.
The Spokane Police Department and Washington State Patrol are very thankful for the cooperation of the businesses, citizens, and assisting agencies who all demonstrated tremendous patience and cooperation during this event. The coordinated effort that went into making this a successful outcome would not have been possible without everyone’s support.
Cpl. Teresa Fuller| Swing Shift Patrol Team 5| Patrol PIO|Spokane Police Department
Spokane News Coverage of this incident from the start can be found below
Jay with Spokane News videos found HERE and HERE
Spokane News first post of this incident is HERE
Spokane News coverage of this incident when the building caught on fire found HERE
3:40pm 10/1/19 Update:
This morning, Major Crimes detectives processed the scene of last night’s standoff. An airsoft handgun, which resembled an actual firearm, was recovered from the beverage cooler area where Booher had concealed himself during the standoff.
Members of the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) were able recover the surveillance camera system and obtain video of the event. The video, not releasable at this time, shows Booher concealed behind the employee counter holding what appears to be a gun in one hand and igniting the fire.
The SWAT team accelerated their chemical munitions plan for two reasons: the preservation of life and the preservation of property. Our goal was to drive Booher out of the building away from the quickly spreading fire and preserve his life. By removing him from the location, attempts to suppress the fire and save the property could accelerate.
Booher has felony convictions for Burglary, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Owner Permission.
Booher made his first court appearance this afternoon.