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Police kill man suspected of shooting at neighbors in north Spokane

January 8, 2019

Spokane police shot and killed a man late Monday who was believed to have been firing a gun at neighbors.

Officers rushed to the home at 623 W. Montgomery Ave. in north Spokane at about 10:30 p.m. after receiving a 911 call reporting that a man at the home was firing a gun, police said in a news release. When officers arrived, they reported hearing at least one shot fired. Soon after, one officer reportedly fired at the suspect, killing him.

The suspect, while not identified by police, was recognized by neighbors and records as 35-year-old David M. Novak. Spokane County Assessor’s records show Novak purchased the home in 2007.

Police Cpl. Teresa Fuller said arriving officers heard at least one gun shot coming from Novak’s home before a “shot had been fired” from an officer. All officers involved were wearing body cameras.

Jolyn Maze, a black man who lives across the street, said Novak came up to him and a few of his friends smoking cigarettes on the porch minutes before the shooting, where he called him and others a racist term.

“He walked up and then all of the sudden out of nowhere he said he was with the KKK,” said Maze, adding that Novak appeared visibly drunk. “I said ‘you need to get out of here.’”

Maze said minutes later that Novak began shooting a gun “five or six times” into the air and toward his home, which Tuesday morning didn’t appear to have any bullet holes in it.

When police arrived minutes later and confronted Novak, he ignored a command to drop the gun, said Maze.

“It wasn’t no bat” said Maze. “It was a gun.”

Maze, who’s lived on the block for about a year, said Novak had never threatened him before nor used racial slurs. He said he was one of the neighbors who called 911.

“He made the cops kill him,” he said. “He ain’t never did nothing like that before.”

Another neighbor gave a conflicting account.

Tyler Gerstbrein lives on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Wall Street and said Novak wasn’t holding or firing a gun. From the vantage point of his yard, he said Novak was hitting his old white pickup truck in his driveway with an aluminum bat, which sounded like gunshots.

“Before the cops showed up, I saw him pacing back and forth near a truck,” he said. “He had a baseball bat in his hand beating the side of the truck. He was screaming.”

Gerstbrein believed Novak also used the bat to strike another truck parked on the side of the road along Wall Street. He said the truck either belonged Novak or Novak’s father. Both vehicles showed damage consistent with being struck with a baseball bat, including a decal that was knocked off of the truck in the driveway, and several large dents to the front grill of the truck on the side of the road.

Once police arrived, Gerstbrein said officers huddled on the corner of Wall and Montgomery and shined a spotlight on Novak, who was still standing near his truck in the driveway. They told him to “freeze and drop the weapon.”

“He looked confused and raised his hand and walked away,” said Gerstbrein, adding that Novak hit the truck once before dropping the bat. “Then there was one shot fired.”

Gerstbrein said after the single shot rang out, Novak ran into his home, which is when police began yelling at people to get back into their houses. About 10 to 15 minutes later, he said a SWAT team breached the home and pulled Novak out onto the yard near the sidewalk, where he appeared to be dead.

The police news release reported Novak was pronounced dead at the scene.

The name of the officer who fired has not been released. The Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation, declined to comment.

Antonio Fuentes, a neighbor who lives at on North Wall Street to the southwest, said he was startled awake at about 10 p.m. and watched from his living room as police surrounded the neighborhood. He also said he heard just one gun shot.

“I woke up super groggy and heard screaming outside,” he said. “I was about to walk outside and heard a gunshot.”

David Parker, who lives two doors to the east of Novak’s home, said he awoke to the sound of his neighbors yelling loudly. He wasn’t sure if he heard any gunfire.

“I think there had been a disagreement,” he said. “Some sort of confrontation. But I couldn’t sleep. It was a very sickening situation.”

This report will be updated.

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