In a wild crime spree that spanned two states, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office says they have arrested the man who may have robbed a Salvation Army bell ringer in Post Falls on Tuesday.
Ezariah Lingafelter was arrested by Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Thurman and his K9 partner Laslo following a pursuit early Wednesday morning.
The crime spree began hours earlier on Tuesday afternoon when Post Falls Police said a man pulled up in a stolen car to the Super 1 grocery store and grabbed a Salvation Army Kettle while still driving. Officers said a bystander and a Salvation Army employee tried to stop the man, even putting him in a choke hold, but he was able to drive away.
Post Falls Police said the man actually then went back to the Hyundai dealership where he stole the car and dropped it off. Employees recognized him and grabbed him, but he was still able to get away.
The suspect then continued on his charity stealing spree when officers spotted him at St. Vincent dePaul stealing clothes from a donation tent, however when he saw the officers he took off, dropping the Salvation Army Red Kettle and was again able to get away.
Officers continued looking for the man in the Treaty Rock area, but did not locate him. They said they did however locate a stolen motorhome they believe the suspect had been living in.
A short time later, police received yet another stolen vehicle report, this time at the White House Grill in Post Falls. An employee told police a man matching the earlier suspect's description stole a Jeep Cherokee.
Early Wednesday morning, Deputy Thurman spotted the Cherokee at a gas station near 3rd and Thor in Spokane. Deputy Thurman pulled into the gas station and noticed the driver, later identified as 24-year-old Ezariah Lingafelter, jump into the stolen Jeep and took off. Lingafelter eventually stopped the Jeep before striking a fence in a dirt lot on E. 4th.
Deputy Thurman order Lingafelter to get out of the Jeep, however Lingafelter refused. Lingafelter eventually got out of the car and continued to ignore Deputy Thurman's commands. Deputy Thurman said Lingafelter then began reaching into his pockets, and not knowing if he was armed, Deputy Thurman released K9 Laslo. As Lingafelter resisted Laslo, Deputy Thurman and Deputy Kullman ran up to the Jeep and pulled Lingafelter out. He was then taken into custody.
Deputies say they found a glass pipe containing a burnt, white crystalline substance and a large amount of cash. Two pill bottles were also found on the driver's seat. The white substance tested positive for meth. Some of the pills were identified as Clonazepam, a schedule 4 controlled drug.
Deputies then reviewed reports provided by the Post Falls Police Department, and found Lingafelter may have stolen the clothes he was wearing, which still had Goodwill tag attached. The cash was believed to be from the stolen Salvation Army Red Kettle.
Lingafelter was booked into the Spokane County Jail for felony charges of Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement, Possession of a Controlled Substance-Methampthetamine and Possession of a Controlled Substance-Clonazepam with misdemeanor charges of Resisting Arrest, Obstructing Law Enforcement, and Driving with a Suspended Driver's License in 3rd Degree.
Another Salvation Army Red Kettle was stolen last week on Spokane's south hill at Rosauers. Police are looking into a possible connection.