OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE: A 33-year-old Spokane man was arrested Wednesday after he robbed a Spokane gas station and then led Spokane and Spokane Valley police on a miles-long pursuit on slushy and slippery roads.
Jacob S. Beck was booked into the Spokane County Jail on felony counts of First-Degree Robbery, Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle, and Second-Degree Assault after he rammed his 1988 Mercury Cougar into a 2008 Crown Victoria driven by Spokane Valley Police Officer Hal Whapeles.
The incident began inside the City of Spokane when Beck reportedly stole $54 in fuel from a station at 3030 E. Euclid about 3:40 p.m. Witnesses reported that the suspect aimed his car at a customer who attempted to stop him from fleeing and caused a gash to the hand of the customer.
That act turned a misdemeanor theft into a felony robbery. The suspect was last seen driving south on Market Street, but he was spotted by Spokane Police K-9 Officer Danny Lesser as he was eastbound on Trent.
Lesser pursued the suspect eastbound and reported seeing him run a red light at Fancher and Broadway. At Sprague, he turned eastbound and was paced at 50+ mph in the posted 35 mph zone.
Both Lesser and Spokane Valley police pursued the suspect for several minutes, and it was at Havana south of Sprague where the suspect rammed Officer Whapeles. The collision caused only minor damage to the patrol car and the pursuit was terminated shortly afterward because of heavy traffic and dangerous road conditions.
However, not long afterward, a citizen reported being struck by the Cougar and several other 911 calls were received regarding the suspect's dangerous driving. Officers again began searching for the suspect and found the Cougar abandoned at Appleway Chevrolet near Sprague and Dishman Road.
A witness reported that the driver had run westbound through Gus Johnson Ford and had tossed his keys beneath a pickup there.
Officers found Beck in a vacant lot in the area of Sprague and Vista and took him into custody.
Officers were still contacting victims and witnesses at 6 p.m., but believed that no one had been injured during the incident with the exception of the customer at the gas station where it started.
A Spokane County Jail officer said Beck is currently on active probation, but could not say for what conviction. He also had a non-extraditable burglary warrant out of California.
Anyone with information about the robbery, pursuit or the ramming of Officer Whapeles is encouraged to call Crime Check at 456-2233.