Police fatally shoot bank robbery suspect near Viretta Park following manhunt

SPD released still images from bank surveillance video Friday as the department posted new details of the incident

SPD released still images from bank surveillance video Friday as the department posted new details of the incident. We’ve added SPD’s full report on the incident at the bottom of our post.

(Image: SPD)

(Image: SPD)

Police officers fatally shoot bank robbery suspect in Denny Blaine area — UPDATE x2: Seattle Police officers fatally shot a man just south of Viretta Park Thursday afternoon after the man, suspected in a earlier bank robbery, flipped his car and led officers on a 2.5 hour chase through the Denny Blaine neighborhood. According to SPD, officers believed the man was carrying a knife when they approached him at the 100 block of 39th Ave E. UPDATE: The dead suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Cody Spafford. The Stranger has details about his work as a chef in Ballard and a criminal record with nothing remotely approaching this incident. UPDATE: We’ve added a full report from SPD on the fatal shooting to the end of this post.

UPDATE: SPD fanned out around Viretta Park Thursday morning after the suspect flipped his car near 39th and John and was seen fleeing the area wearing women’s clothing and heavy makeup. Police believed the man to be armed.

According to police, the cross-dressed suspect walked into a Madison Park Wells Fargo bank at around 9:15 AM and demanded money from the teller. Soon after police said he flipped his car and was seen fleeing from the scene with a suitcase. The search for the suspect led police to Kurt Cobain’s former house, where K-9 units combed the house’s wooded plot.

The search began around 9:30 AM. SWAT and K-9 units were in the area and roads in the area near Lake Washington were being closed to traffic during the search. The suspect was described as a white male wearing “lots of female make-up” and a large bandage on his face. Police found clothing and money strewn on ground near where the car flipped. SPD  posted a brief on the search and updated the suspect’s description — “Lake Wa incident update: susp. ditched clothes, described as wht male, 5’7, 170 lbs, glasses, tan jacket & makeup”:

Just after 9:15 Thursday morning, an armed man, reportedly wearing lots of makeup, women’s clothing and a brunette wig, walked into a bank near E. Madison Street and McGilvra Blvd. and demanded money from a teller.

The man then fled the bank on foot, possibly carrying a rolling suitcase, and was seen getting into a silver sedan nearby.

About 10 minutes later, police received a report that a silver Hyundai had crashed and flipped over near 39th Avenue and E. John Street, and that the driver had fled from the scene of the crash, carrying a rolling suitcase.

Police are closing streets near 39th and John as they search for the suspect.

  • First Hill bank robbery suspect busted: Seattle Police recognized a man as the suspect in the March 25th morning robbery of the First Hill Key Bank near 17th Ave an E Madison Wednesday night. The suspect was taken into custody without incident. Here’s a brief from SPD on the arrest:
    Remember this bank robbery from last week?  Well, a couple of East Precinct officers do, and ended up arresting the suspect after they had stopped him for a liquor violation last night at 17th and Madison just before 7:00 pm.   Officers recalled the bank robbery that occurred in the 1200 Block of Madison and thought he closely resembled the suspect depicted in the photos.  He was taken into custody, and transported to the Robbery Office, where detectives attempted to interview the 46-year-old man.  The suspect was later booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Robbery.  Detectives will continue to follow up on this case.

UPDATE: Here is SPD’s account of the lethal force used Thursday. SPD has also posted more photos including images of the air gun and knife the suspect was allegedly carrying.

Knife-Wielding Bank Robber Shot After Charging At Detective

Written by  on 

Seattle police flooded the Denny-Blaine neighborhood Thursday morning in search of an armed bank robber, who was later fatally shot after he, knife in hand, ran toward a veteran detective.

At 9:16 AM, Seattle police received a 911 report of a takeover-style bank robbery at the Madison Park Wells Fargo bank in the 4000 block of E. Madison Street. The suspect, described as a white male wearing lots of makeup, a fake nose, dark wig, and women’s clothing, brandished a handgun during the robbery and told witnesses inside the bank he would kill them if he heard police sirens.

The suspect ran out of the bank with a cash-filled rolling suitcase and was gone before officers arrived at 9:19 AM.

At 9:26 AM, police received a report of that a silver Hyundai had crashed and rolled over near 39th Avenue E. and E. John Street. Witnesses reported seeing a man running from the vehicle, pulling off clothing, and dragging a piece of rolling luggage. Officers were not pursuing the suspect’s vehicle at the time of the crash.

Dozens of police officers—including SWAT and K9—flooded the area to search for the suspect, who police believed was running through the neighborhood carrying a handgun.

Officers arrived at 39th Avenue and E. John Street at 9:32 AM and found clothing and cash in the driveway of a home in the 100 block of 39th Ave. East.

Police searched the area for more than two hours, but were unable to find the suspect.

At 11:40 AM, an office assigned to guard the suspect’s discarded clothing and cash spotted the suspect running between two buildings inside the yard of a large home near 39th and E. John. The officer alerted other officers to the suspect’s location.

Officers and Robbery Unit detectives entered the courtyard of the home to contain the suspect, and spotted the suspect running onto the roof a detached garage. As the suspect ran across the garage, away from officers and out of view, one detective scaled a wall adjacent to the garage to get to higher ground and get a better view of the suspect. As soon as the detective ascended the wall, he saw the suspect standing nearby, holding a large fixed-blade knife.

The detective began talking to the suspect and repeatedly ordered him to drop the knife, but the suspect told the detective he would not drop the knife.

As the detective was working to get the suspect to drop the knife, a lieutenant at the scene called for officers with Tasers to respond to the courtyard.

The suspect, brandishing a knife, ran toward the detective. The detective fired multiple rounds from a rifle, striking the suspect. Officers and detectives called for medics and began performing CPR on the suspect. The suspect died at the scene.

Although officers armed with additional less-lethal tools were responding to the incident at the time of the shooting, police are trained to use deadly force when facing a threat from a deadly weapon, such as a gun or a knife.

Detectives are still working to determine whether the suspect entered any homes in the area, but police did find his cash-filled rolling bag in a garage a block away from the scene of the shooting. Police are also processing the suspect’s crashed vehicle but so far have recovered a handgun determined to be a realistic-looking airsoft gun.

Detectives have determined the 26-year-old suspect has a criminal history including burglary, possession of a dangerous weapon, theft, drug possession, criminal mischief, obstruction and possession of stolen property.

The detective, a 15-year veteran of the department, has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

The department’s Force Investigation Team is handling the case.

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23 thoughts on “Police fatally shoot bank robbery suspect near Viretta Park following manhunt

  1. We don’t know the whole story yet but, the first questions that come to my mind are: How many police officers with guns and how many bank robbers with a knife? And: Do they always have to shoot to kill?

    • Yeah, not to jump to any conclusions– but why would they need to shoot somebody carrying a knife? A gun, maybe– but a knife? WTF?

    • A knife is deadly, that’s why. To answer the other question….shooting to wound is something out of fantasyland and hollywood. Under stress one is lucky to hit what is being shot at, let alone shrinking the target area to the left toe or right hand. It also doesn’t matter how many are there…especially if you’re the one about to get cut. The guy robbed a bank….ran…..hid…..a confrontation took place…he ended up being shot.

    • Really? I can’t believe people in this town. Do we need to actually train Seattle children in school that when a cop orders you to do something, you better comply immediately, especially if you pose a possible threat to him? Kids, if you have permissive parents who let you get away with everything and didn’t spank you – they put your life in danger because you didn’t learn cause and effect.

    • If I had a gun and someone w/ a knife came at me, yes– I would definitely shoot him. So far nothing said he did that– not yet anyway.

    • I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a police officer to wait for the suspect to lunge. The first lunge could be the fatal one for the cop. If he doesn’t respond to orders to drop the knife then deadly force is probably reasonable. Stop making me defend the stinking SPD!

    • A wounded person can still stab you. A dead person cannot. I suppose they could have shot his hand in hopes that he might drop the knife. But hope also doesn’t stop someone from stabbing you.

  2. I’d like to give input from my keyboard here, from the comfort of my couch; critiquing the way this stressful situation was handled by the officers with reports from the media as the only reality and side of the story – but won’t, because that’s already been done. I’ll just say – Good job SPD, one less bad guy (or sometimes gal), for the law abiding to have to worry about. I hope those traumatized by the robbery and stand off get the emotional support they need.

  3. Shoot in the leg? to stop an attacking person with a knife?

    Hmm let’s see, to get a person to stop this way means not just a shot in the leg but a direct shot to the femur or knee cap, blowing it up to where the leg can’t function. With adrenaline running through the body poking holes through muscle tissue just won’t do it. Depending on distance and time this would be a really tough shot to make considering the legs and kneecaps are moving.

    A well trained person can probably make this shot with a stationary target and under non stressful conditions. Lets ad: moving target and if you miss you have an enraged person on top of you slashing and stabbing you to death.

    To you non-believers try this at home. Stand in front of your door and imagine someone has been following you and you had to do some speed walking or maybe even ran to your door because you were afraid you would be attacked or robbed. The person is on the sidewalk in front of your house heading your way; now hurry and get your keys, pick the right one, put it in the key hole, turn the knob and get inside. You have probably done this before just being in a hurry and know how clumsy things get. Fine motor skills suffer a bit when under stress.

    Back to making a good shot, one has to draw the gun (take it out of the holster). Raise it to eye level and get a good stance. Put the front sight on the target, which is pretty small (femur or kneecap). Keep it steady, that sight can’t move. Now start squeezing the trigger, don’t yank it, otherwise the front sight will move and you will miss. Squeeze the trigger until the gun goes bang! Nice shot! Now ad moving target, you have seconds to do it and if you miss your in some real trouble; life and death type trouble.

    I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would take the time to explain.

  4. I’m the last person who would defend the SPD but if you rob a bank, run from the cops, then approach them with a knife I have zero sympathy when they shoot you. If the SPD is going to shoot people it should be guys like this, and not the people asleep in their homes like they have done in the past.

    • This is exactly how I feel. It’s unfortunate that any of this happened at all, but how is anyone going to defend a suspect who robbed a bank, flipped his car, was on the loose for hours running around, and was reported to have a gun and a knife on his person. I would be the first to attest to seattle police’s problem with brutality, but in this circumstance it seems as though they acted in the safest way.

    • “if you rob a bank” it’s not punishable by execution. If you “run from the cops,” it’s not punishable by execution. The man was on a roof, talking with the officer, and then he brandished the knife and came at an officer pointing a rifle at him? While standing on a roof? Sounds a bit fishy to me. If SPD had to wear body cams, we’d have no questions about this or any other brutality incidents. Rialto police officers used force 60 percent less often when body cams were required. 60 percent! Re, “If the SPD is going to shoot people it should be guys like this” – Really? So what slippery slope do we traverse to decide what SORT of people SPD should be A-ok to shoot? Ugh.

    • Say they were wearing body cams Delia, what next? Would this 15 year veteran of the force – who didn’t wake up that morning thinking he would have to do this – put that rooftop situation on pause and call your cell as a citizen, ask you to review the footage and then proceed as your highly trained opinion advises on it? As a law abiding citizen, the slippery slope I grant the SPD with is to use whatever force necessary on any criminal that has just held a GUN to a tellers head in a terrifying robbery, and then recklessly with no way out rolled his car in a quiet neighborhood with families and children everywhere.

    • Bob, then you know little about LEOs escalation of force and use of force rules. Your logic: He did X number of terrible things, thus the police can execute him. That’s not actually how it works. He must be, at that moment, presenting a clear threat to the officer or someone else – that’s why you can’t shoot him in the back as he runs away, just because he did X number of terrible things. We’re not in Saudi Arabia. You don’t get to just execute people. We have a jury system for that.

      To answer your question re body cams – we’d have significantly less uses of force. That has been proven. Ask the Rialto police. And, we’d have film evidence of fatal shootings, not solely the testimony of officers with whom the DOJ has found endless fault.

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