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News / Northwest

Lilac Parade resumes after pause as police responded to shooting that left two people injured

Suspect detained on scene by police; 'it did not appear to be related to the parade whatsoever'

By Garrett Cabeza, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane)
Published: May 19, 2024, 5:19pm

A shooting in downtown Spokane forced a long pause in the annual Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade late Saturday as police worked to secure the area and emergency crews treated two injured people.

The parade was paused about 9 p.m. after police received reports of a shooting inside PM Jacoy’s convenience store near Washington Street and Sprague Avenue, Spokane police Lt. Jay Kernkamp said.

He said two people — at least one of them shot — were injured and taken to a hospital. He said there was no further threat to the public and that officials rerouted the parade so it could be finished as officers continued to investigate the scene.

A suspect was detained on scene by police, Kernkamp said.

“It did not appear to be related to the parade whatsoever,” Kernkamp said.

As police swarmed to the shooting, marching bands and other parade entries moved to the side as the emergency vehicles with sirens and flashing lights worked their way through.

Many in the crowd in the areas closest to the incident were confused and quickly cleared the scene.

Some parade watchers in the area of the shooting investigation said they hadn’t realized anything was wrong until police, firefighters and ambulances began to show up.

More than half of the parade had started when the pause occurred. Even bands and floats that already passed the incident paused in place. Some bands, like the Rogers High School band, continued playing without marching.

The parade restarted just after 9:30 with Freeman High School’s marching band the first band after the pause.

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Mayor Lisa Brown said in a news release that she was “saddened” by the shooting.

“My thoughts are with those who were injured, their families, and all those who witnessed this incident,” Brown said in a statement. “Violence like this should never happen, especially near a place where families are gathered to enjoy a community event. The incident does not appear to be connected to the parade and I am thankful for the quick response by local law enforcement and first responders.”

Before the emergency, the parade brought thousands of onlookers to watch the many bands, floats and military displays that weaved through city streets.

Emma Goodwin may have seen thousands of faces in the downtown crowd as she cheered Saturday night in the annual Spokane Lilac Festival Association’s Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

If she looked in the right spot at the corner of Washington Street and Riverside Avenue, the junior Mt. Spokane High School cheerleader may have seen her own face, courtesy of Goodwin’s mother, Rebecca Avey, who held a large cardboard cutout photo of her daughter’s visage.

“She hates this photo, and it’s kind of a joke now,” Avey said. “Everywhere that she participates in something, I just want to make sure she knows that we’re here.”

The longstanding parade started with the roar of a Fairchild Air Force Base KC-135 Stratotanker flying over the downtown skyline.

Local law enforcement led the parade’s ground forces, slowly rolling down Washington Street with their lights and sirens activated.

Dressed in purple jackets, festival co-presidents Elisabeth Hooker and Carly Cortright followed, waving to the crowd from “Laboata,” a boat converted for street use.

The festival’s royal court, consisting of six princesses and one queen from Spokane County high schools, waved from their Expo ’74-inspired float.

The parade’s grand marshal — U.S. Army Col. Anne McClain, a NASA astronaut — cruised through downtown in a classic car.

McClain, a Gonzaga Prep graduate, served as flight engineer on the International Space Station and was the lead spacewalker on two spacewalks.

Plenty of high school bands played their hearts out to the delight of the attendees, including Brian Karunaratne. He played in three Lilac parades as a drummer in the Ferris High School band.

“It’ll be nice to kind of reminisce on what used to be,” Karunaratne, a manager at Yoke’s Fresh Market in Cheney, said before the parade started.

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