Dec. 9-Spokane police and business leaders say that they are increasing foot patrols in downtown Spokane for the holidays after two reported armed robberies within an hour Wednesday night in Riverfront Park and in River Park Square.
The first robbery at about 6 p.m. was near the Howard Street footbridge in Riverfront Park. A pedestrian was approached by a group of suspects, one of whom was reportedly armed with a handgun, and robbed the victim, Spokane police said. The second incident, about 30 minutes later, took place near the 800 block of West Main Avenue outside P.F. Chang's, when a person was approached by two suspects, one of whom brandished a boxcutter, demanded the person's belongings and slashed the victim, police said.
No suspects have been arrested in connection to either incident, but Spokane Police Department spokesman Cpl. Nick Briggs said police are increasing patrols downtown and devoting additional resources to investigating both robberies.
"Regarding these specific incidents, we have a variety of investigative assets working these incidents," Briggs said. "We have dedicated a lot of resources into solving these."
Police have said descriptions of the suspects are vague, though all were younger males.
"The similar type of incidents and truncated timeframe and close proximity indicate that they could be related," Briggs said. "It's important to realize Spokane is still overall a very safe city. While we do have our issues, it's overall a very safe place to be, and downtown is a very safe place to go and enjoy with family."
In an unrelated incident earlier this week, Spokane police arrested a man who fired a handgun more than two dozen times into the air near Howard Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard.
Bryn West, general manager of River Park Square, said the shopping center is also increasing its security patrols for the holiday season.
"We take security at River Park Square very seriously, at our garage, in our center and in the streets," she said. "With increased patrols from us and ambassadors at Spokane Downtown Partnership, if anything (downtown is) now one of the safest places to be because of the patrols."
Downtown Spokane Partnership CEO Emilie Cameron said the partnership's ambassadors were also extending hours to 8 p.m. to aid security staff and customers downtown.
"I think it is important to bring up the fact that it is still overwhelmingly safe in downtown," Cameron said. "We need to focus and ensure that these types of incidents do not happen, but we all are taking this very seriously and quickly looking at where are there are opportunities to ensure that the experience downtown is safe."
The city will have "extra eyes" on Riverfront Park and emphasize certain areas of the park with park rangers, Parks and Recreation Director Garrett Jones said.
"System-wide, this year in 2022, we have seen an increase in vandalism and that sort of activity in our parks," he said. "A lot of times, we'll see an influx in vandalism when school gets out, and when school gets back in session it dissipates."
Briggs said the sort of "brazen" criminal activity in a high-traffic pedestrian area is "very rare in Spokane."
If you have information about either robbery, police ask you call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.