Suspect’s Attempt to Flee Thwarted by Teamwork and Technology
Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies worked together to locate a driver who chose to flee in a vehicle and on foot. The suspect, 39-year-old Paul R. Hunt Jr., was located by a K9 Unit and a Deputy using an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) hiding in a fenced backyard of a residence and was safely taken into custody. With the permission of the homeowner, Deputies entered the fenced area and safely took Hunt into custody.
On June 8, 2021, at approximately 3:50 am., Deputy Brent Miller was patrolling in the area of Atlantic and Houston and observed a vehicle traveling south in an alleyway. Being familiar with his patrol area, recognizing it was not typical for cars to be traveling in the alleyways at this hour of the morning, Deputy Miller stopped to observe.
As the vehicle drove past Deputy Miller’s fully marked patrol car, he noticed the car, occupied by two males, did not have front or rear license plates. Deputy Miller began to drive behind the car as it passed and observed the driver, later identified as Hunt, immediately accelerated to a visually estimated speed twice the posted limit of 25 mph.
With Hunt driving the car without license plates in an obviously reckless manner, Deputy Miller activated his emergency lights to conduct a traffic stop.
Instead of pulling over as required by Washington State RCW, Hunt chose to flee, running a stop sign at Atlantic and Houston. Deputy Miller activated his siren, and as soon as the radio channel was clear of traffic, he advised Spokane Regional Communication Center dispatchers he was in pursuit of a recklessly driven vehicle.
After a short pursuit, Hunt stopped the vehicle near the intersection of Normandie Street and Rhodes Avenue. Both Hunt and the adult male passenger exited the car with Hunt running west on Rhodes and the passenger walking toward the east.
Deputy Miller yelled commands at both individuals to stop, but neither of them complied. Deputy Miller decided to stay with the passenger and repeated commands as the passenger continued to walk approximately 30 more feet. With a Taser now deployed and warnings it would be used, the passenger chose to comply and got down on the ground as instructed. He was safely detained without the need to use the Taser beyond the warnings of its potential use.
Additional Deputies established a perimeter, and K9 Units responded to help locate Hunt. Deputy Rassier and his K9 partner Med began a track to find Hunt. In addition, Deputy Bitzer, a member of the Spokane Regional Air Support Unit (SRASU), arrived and deployed an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to aid in the search.
K9 Med led Deputies to an alleyway in the 6900 block of N. Whitehouse Road and began circling the corner of a fenced yard. Believing Hunt was hiding in the area, Deputy Bitzer positioned the UAS in the area and noticed a faint heat signature under a lean-to next to a small shed. Deputy Bitzer advised the K9 Team, Hunt was possibly hiding under tarps and other miscellaneous items just on the other side of the fence.
Deputies contacted the homeowner, scared by the notion that someone may have entered her backyard by scaling her 6’ wood fenced, gave permission for Deputies to search for the suspect.
Deputy Rassier, K9 Med and assisting Deputies, went into the yard and located Hunt, who decided to surrender.
A check of Hunt’s name showed an active felony Washington State Department of Corrections warrant for Burglary 2nd Degree. Hunt was also advised he would have new charges of Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Vehicle and Burglary 2nd Degree. Hunt declined to answer questions.
The male passenger stated the vehicle was his, but he could not provide paperwork to confirm ownership. He said he let “John” drive the car, but he could not give a last name for “John” or any plausible reason why he would allow a person he barely knew to drive his car. The passenger was released at the end of the investigation without being charged.
Hunt was booked into the Spokane County Jail for new charges of Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Vehicle and Burglary 2nd Degree in addition to his felony warrant.