The Morning Press: Snow, Workplace shootings, Ray Spencer, Nordstrom



At least one person died and 15 vehicles were totaled Thursday morning during a pileup crash that closed Interstate 5 near Battle Ground as a snow storm descended on Clark County.

People are evacuated from the Center for Community Health after reports of shots fired on Tuesday. A Veterans Affairs employee was injured in Vancouver's second shooting at a workplace this week.

Police secure the scene of a shooting at a business park in Fruit Valley on Monday February 3, 2014.

Vancouver police detectives are investigating a suspicious death of a man whose body was found outside near the area of Northeast Vancouver Mall Drive and Northeast 77th Avenue. (Fox12 News)

Clyde Ray Spencer talks to the media at the Clark County Courthouse after charges related to the sexual abuse of his children were dismissed in September 2010.

Nordstrom at the Westfield Vancouver Mall, which has operated in Vancouver since the mall opened in 1977, will be closing its doors for good in January 2015.

How long will snow continue to fall? Check out the local weather forecast here.

Here are some of the week’s top stories and news you may have missed:

Man dies in massive I-5 accident during storm

A 39-year-old man died in a massive weather-related crash Thursday on Interstate 5 near the Battle Ground exit.

Twenty-eight vehicles, including tractor-trailers, were involved in the crash, reported at milepost 13, near the Gee Creek rest area about 10 a.m.

Around the same time, several crashes were reported in both directions along the I-5 corridor.

Authorities eventually closed the freeway near the Battle Ground exit, but traffic in both directions was reopened by 12:30 p.m. Hours later, however, traffic was still backed up.

“The weather conditions changed very quickly,” said Tim Dawdy, spokesman for Clark County Fire & Rescue.

Matthew S. Scott, 39, of Tualatin, Ore., died at the scene, according to a memo from the Washington State Patrol. Seven others sustained injuries.

Troopers couldn’t provide further details because they were spread thin responding to scores of other weather-related crashes on I-5, I-205 and state highways.

Rescuers from nearly every fire department in Clark County and some from Cowlitz County assisted at the scene near the Battle Ground exit, which dispatchers coded as a mass-casualty incident.

Read the full story here.

Shooting reported at county health office in Vancouver

Two people were injured and a suspect was in custody Tuesday following the second Vancouver workplace shooting this week.

The shots — four in all — were reported on the fourth floor of building 17, the Center for Community Health, on the Veterans Affairs campus, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. shortly before 4 p.m. The ensuing minutes saw a flurry of activity as law enforcement swept the building and employees and building patrons sought shelter.

The suspect, unnamed as of Tuesday evening, is described as a 46-year-old woman with blond hair, wearing gray pants and a blue blouse. Police recovered a revolver at the scene, according to emergency radio traffic monitored by The Columbian.

A 45-year-old man, who works for the regional Veterans Integrated Service Network, was taken to a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound. It was not considered life-threatening and the man’s name was not released Tuesday evening. The Veterans Integrated Service Network is headquartered on the fourth floor, according to the Portland VA Medical Center.

Read the full story here.

Two dead in Vancouver workplace shooting

Two men died Monday in a workplace shooting at a paint distribution warehouse in Vancouver. A company employee reportedly shot a manager, and police say it appears he later turned the gun on himself.

The shooting was reported at 11:29 a.m. Monday at Benjamin Moore Paints, 1800 W. Fourth Plain Blvd. The business is located in the Westside Business Center, a multi-tenant building on the city’s industrial west side.

A caller to 911 reported that an employee of the business had come to work on his day off and shot his boss, according to emergency radio traffic monitored by The Columbian.

Ryan Momeny, 45, a logistics manager at the warehouse, was reported lying on the ground in front of another business in the complex. He died at the scene, according to Vancouver police.

After police arrived, they quickly located and surrounded a parked 2001 red Acura described as belonging to the shooter. It was in the parking lot of the complex near the intersection of 28th and Thompson streets. Police could see the Acura’s windows fogging, but got no response from the person inside the car, according to radio traffic.

Read the full story here.

Suspicious death investigated in VanMall neighborhood

The body of a 21-year-old Vancouver man was found in the VanMall neighborhood early Tuesday, prompting yet another police investigation into a suspicious death.

Vancouver’s major crimes detectives, who had spent a good part of Monday processing the crime scene where a paint warehouse employee reportedly shot and killed a manager, then himself, were called back to work shortly after 3 a.m.

This time the scene was the chilly 7700 block of Northeast Vancouver Mall Drive, five blocks east of where two women were struck and killed in a crosswalk on Jan. 19 by a hit-and-run driver.

At 2:58 a.m., a caller to 911 reported discovering the body, later identified as Craig C. Moritz, 21, of Vancouver.

Paramedics and police with a defibrillator responded, but Moritz was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a news release.

Police were unable to determine why or how Moritz died, so they called for major crimes detectives.

Read the full story here.

Jury awards $9 million to former local cop

Clyde Ray Spencer was awarded $9 million Monday by a federal jury that unanimously agreed a detective from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office violated Spencer’s constitutional right to due process by fabricating the evidence that put him behind bars for two decades for sexually abusing his two children and a stepson.

The $9 million award is the highest in Washington in a civil rights case, said Kathleen Zellner, Spencer’s attorney.

“Justice was served — even though it took 30 years,” Zellner said. “We were able to prove they framed him. We’ve proven the evidence was fabricated. And, after 30 years, that’s remarkable. Justice is alive and well in Washington.”

For Spencer, 66, and his family, the verdict brought incredible relief.

“It’s a good feeling that the criminal justice system finally got it right,” Spencer said moments after he heard the jury’s decision. “My name is finally cleared, and those who are responsible are going to have to face the ridicule I did.”

Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik, who took office in January 2011, called the verdict “extremely troubling” on Monday.

Read the full story here.

Nordstrom to close in Vancouver mall, Lloyd Center

Nordstrom on Wednesday said it will close its stores at Westfield Vancouver mall and Portland’s Lloyd Center in about a year, leaving Clark County shoppers with online alternatives and trips to Portland as their main replacements.

The store closings coincide with terms stipulated in lease contracts with the malls, according to a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based retailer. The retailer must give 12 months’ notice prior to vacating the store sites. The company did not take lightly the decision to close the two stores, among the chain’s worst performers for quite some time, said Brooke White, speaking on behalf of Nordstrom.

On a brighter note, the advanced notice allows the company to find other positions for 384 Nordstrom employees — 164 from the Vancouver store and 220 from the Lloyd Center store — affected by the closures, White said.

“We’ll be able to find jobs for these people over the next year,” she said.

In the Portland area, Nordstrom operates three full-line department stores and four Nordstrom Rack discount stores, along with a distribution center on North Marine Drive.

Read the story here.