Uncooperative Threat/Assault Suspect Refuses to Exit Vehicle or Follow Commands, Prompting Closure of Southbound Newport Highway
Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a threat call and learned the suspect threatened to shoot the victim, attempted to strike him with a vehicle, and physically assaulted him. Deputies found the suspect’s vehicle and attempted a traffic stop, but the suspect drove away after initially pulling over. With additional Deputies and Washington State Patrol Troopers assisting, the suspect finally stopped. Still, he refused to follow commands or exit the vehicle, prompting the closure of the southbound lanes of Newport Highway near Day Mt. Spokane Road. With reports the suspect claimed to be armed, past history of the suspect threatening law enforcement, and all de-escalation attempts failing, chemical irritants were introduced into the vehicle. The suspect was eventually taken into custody and provided medical attention at the scene. He was also transported to a hospital to be evaluated due to a prior medical condition. He was booked into jail for two felony and two misdemeanor charges. His vehicle was seized pending a search warrant.
On November 13, 2023, just before 12:00 pm, Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the report of a suspect threatening to shoot a victim near Newport Highway and Deer Park-Milan Road. The victim also stated the suspect fled after attempting to hit the victim with his vehicle.
Deputies located the suspect’s black Jeep Gladiator, with personalized license plates, traveling south on Newport Highway at Chattaroy Road. Near Jim Hill Road, the Deputy activated his emergency lights to conduct a traffic stop. Instead of pulling off the highway onto Jim Hill Road as hoped, the suspect, later identified as 56-year-old Michael F. Cronin, continued on the highway, pulling over after continuing to travel a short distance.
With the report, Cronin was armed and already threatened to shoot the victim; the Deputy remained at his patrol vehicle and gave commands. Cronin had his window partially lowered but would not follow multiple commands to exit his SUV. Cronin continued to refuse and rolled up his window as additional Deputies responded to assist.
Cronin suddenly opened the driver’s door and yelled at the Deputy that he had his attorney on the phone. He asked if he was under arrest and then explained he was injured and running out of gas. Cronin was advised that he was not arrested but was being detained to investigate the initial threat incident. Cronin then yelled he was leaving to go to a gas station. The Deputy explained that Cronin was not free to leave and that medics could be called if needed. Instead of complying, Cronin chose to close his door and drive away.
With the Deputy following, without emergency lights on, a second Deputy arrived to assist. Approaching Colbert Road, a traffic stop was again attempted, but Cronin continued to ignore the Deputies’ lights and now, siren.
Near Day Mt. Spokane Road, Cronin finally pulled over on the shoulder of the highway. With additional Deputies and Washington State Patrol Troopers arriving to assist, the highway's southbound lanes were closed for safety. A Crisis Negotiator and Behavioral Health Unit also responded to assist.
Despite numerous attempts, Cronin refused to open the door or driver's window and would not communicate with the Deputies.
Meanwhile, a Deputy contacted the victim and developed probable cause to arrest Cronin for felony assault and harassment.
Cronin was advised he was now under arrest and not free to leave. Deputies placed spike strips by the vehicle’s front and rear tires to prevent Cronin from fleeing. Cronin finally exited his vehicle but remained uncooperative and would not follow further commands. Despite continued attempts to de-escalate the tense situation and assurances that he would not be harmed if he followed commands, Cronin said he could sit there all day and got back inside the Jeep. Additional attempts to get Cronin to surrender peacefully were unsuccessful, as were warnings that less-lethal force might be used.
After approximately 30-40 minutes, chemical irritants were inserted into the vehicle. After several minutes, and additional instructions/commands were ignored, Cronin opened the driver’s door, stuck his hands out, and was taken into custody.
Cronin was provided medical assistance at the scene, but due to previous health issues, it was determined he should be transported to the hospital for additional treatment.
His vehicle was seized pending a search warrant.
Through statements of the victim, a witness, and security footage, probable cause was established to charge Cronin with Harassment-Threats to Kill and Assault 2nd Degree, both felonies, and misdemeanor charges of Assault 4th Degree and Resisting Arrest.
After being medically cleared, Cronin was transported and booked on these charges.
This remains an active investigation and is pending a search warrant for the vehicle. Additional charges are possible depending on the outcome of the investigation/search.