SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – It has been nearly 500 days since a Mead High School sophomore was gunned down outside of a Spokane Valley home. Owar Opiew was just 16 years old. For more than a year, whoever killed him has dodged arrest. Investigators are now making very public pleas, in the form of multiple billboards, for witnesses to come forward.

“He was a kid in our community,” Spokane County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) Undersheriff John Nowels said. “He was just trying to do what kids do and be social. He was at a birthday party when he was murdered.”

SCSO says Owar may not have been the intended target, but who was remains part of this very active and troubling investigation. Crime scene photos show multiple shots were fired outside of a home near 900 S. Beige. A 911 call from the moments after the shooting indicate the suspect vehicle left immediately after shots were fired. It was gone before deputies could arrive on scene.

Shootings, assaults and even homicides in our community have only increased in the weeks and months since Owar’s murder

“Violence in our streets is bad enough, but violence in our youth is on the rise,” Nowels said. “We need to get control … of the violence. The only effective way to do that is to find and hold accountable those who are committing these terrifying acts.”

Something he says is often dependent on the cooperation of witnesses. He says SCSO understands the fears that can come with reporting what you know or saw, and stresses there are ways to keep your identity out of it.

“There are ways to report information anonymously,” he said.

And that’s through Crime Stoppers who is currently providing a $1,000 cash reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed Owar. SCSO is advertising this, and the case in general, via billboards that were made possible through donations from Lamar Advertising.

“We want those billboards to motivate people to do the right thing,” Nowels said. “Do it for Owar, do it for his family. Owar deserves justice.”

Nowels says in his more than two decade career in law enforcement, he’s never see his agency use an investigative tool like this. He says it shows they are willing to try anything to get this family some much needed answers.

“The [billboards] are having an effect,” he said. “They are being seeing. I just hope it has the impact on the right people. We need to hold Owar’s murderer accountable.”

He urges anyone out there to call in any tip, big or small. Even if it’s something a tipster thinks SCSO already knows about. He says you could have that one piece still needed to catch a violent offender.

“We know that information is out there,” he said. “We implore anyone out there [who can help] to please come forward.”

If you can help in any way, please call 1-800-222-TIPS or go to www.p3tips.come. Remember, you can stay anonymous.

You can also always call crime check at (509) 456-2233.