My Active Shooter Incident Experience

Incident Location: 700 W Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA 99201

Incident Date: 2022-12-06 7:45am

This post is intended to serve as a recording of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences during an active shooter situation I was involved in. My hope is to use this record in the future to better understand myself, my growth, and how this major life event has impacted me in ways that I am unable to foresee now. Additionally, I hope that writing all of this down will also help get it out of my head and allow me to regain focus on the important things in my life.

My car isn’t the best in the snow, so my wife and I decided to take the bus into work on this slick icy-rain morning. My wife gets off a handful of bus stops before me and I usually ride it all the way to the bus plaza. However, today, I went with a gut feeling to get off at a different stop that was equidistant from my office. I often get these weird feelings to do something different than my usual routine and have learned to just go with them instead of analyzing them because I always learn something important from them (many stories for another time). I also had a feeling to not put in my Airpods and just listen to the sounds of the downtown on my walk of a few blocks.

At the intersection of 700 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. where Wall Street ends at the ice ribbon near the water fountain in Riverfront Park, I needed to cross Wall Street. During the crossing, I was focused on a nearby delivery van backing up to make sure it didn’t back up all the way into the crosswalk and hit me (not the first… or third time such things have happened to me). Once I made it to the sidewalk, I heard what sounded like gun shots start ringing out behind me and to the right slightly, but very close. When I turned to look, I saw a guy in a black coat with his back towards me firing a handgun into the air rapidly in the middle of the intersection in front of a few cars with people in them. I had turned around at shot 4 once I realized the cadence meant it was a gun, and when I had turned around, I saw the muzzle flashes of fire in high definition as I confirmed my fears that it was a person shooting a real gun.

I instantly moved quickly from the intersection to a nearby concrete plant barrier in a crouching run. By the time I had good cover, the shots had stopped, and I hoped it might be over. I wanted to get a better description of the guy so I could have useful info for the police in case he got away before they arrived. I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and started filming when he started shooting again at 7:48am.

Short zoomed clip (6 seconds):
Full video (30 seconds):

I was wearing gloves, so I was having trouble zooming in to get a good look, but I was always trying to think about how to get a recording of him while also not exposing myself to his line of sight or fire. While filming, a lot of other thoughts were going through my head too. I was thinking about how unreal this all seemed. I had continual thoughts of disbelief that this was really happening. I really could not believe this was real. I cannot stress that thought enough. It was so surreal. You can hear me in the full unedited video breathing hard and saying “Holy shit! That’s some scary stuff!”. I was also looking for other areas of cover because I still felt WAY too close to the shooter even though I was now like 20 yards away instead of the 10 or less yards when it started. However, when I looked up and down the street in each direction there was no cover or concealment for a long way and no other pedestrians, so I was basically stuck in this spot.

That realization is when I really began to worry because I had no clue if he knew I was here or what direction he was heading. The fact that I saw him fire in the air so many times did not give me any consolation in the moment. In fact, since his behaviors were not “standard” shooter behaviors I was even more concerned because there was no predictability to his actions. If he came to the sidewalk toward me, there would have been little to nothing I could do other than maybe try and pivot around to always keep the planter between us. These thoughts scared me a lot and was the peak of my fear. I felt very helpless in the situation and was doing everything I knew that I should do in the situation, but it was of little comfort. All these thoughts were going through my head at lightning speed. I have had a lot of occasions in my life where my brain speeds up on adrenaline, but this was like warp speed.

Right after I finished filming for that wild 30 seconds, I called 911 immediately. While waiting for it to pick up I peeked my head up a bit to see where he was. I saw him walking away from me towards the carousel in Riverfront Park now. This gave me both relief that he wasn’t coming my direction, but another new fear that he may be going to shoot kids in the carousel (not sure it was even open, but I wasn’t thinking about that in the moment). I gave the dispatcher all the info I had, and she said that the call center was lighting up with calls about the incident and that police have been dispatched. I told her I had a video clip as well and she said she would reach out if they needed it. By the time I hung up the phone, the cops were just arriving on the scene, which was amazing because the call to 911 was only 2 minutes according to my phone.

Once I saw that multiple cop cars were there, I used that opportunity to get the hell out of there as quick as possible. I sped walk to the office as fast as I could while keeping an eye on the area and my head down. Once in the building and at my desk, I was breathing hard, and my boss was telling my coworker about her experience with it as well (she had been a block away with line of sight to the issue as she was trying to get into the building at the time). They could see I was clearly in shock as I gasped out that I was just feet from the guy shooting. I sat there in shock for a few minutes just trying to catch my breath. My heart rate tracker showed a pulse of 124 BPM during the incident, and for reference my average resting heart rate is 50 BPM and while walking is 90-100 BPM.

At 8:04am, less than fifteen minutes after I had initially called, I got a call back from 911 saying that they wanted the video I had. They got me in touch with a police officer that provided me a link to upload my video to the police evidence incident files. It was an easy and smooth process to get it uploaded from my phone. I had a couple important meetings in the first part of the day that I personally did not want to miss, but after those were completed, I went home early. This official police press release came out and I was very relieved to see that nobody had been hurt during the incident at all and that they did arrest the guy without further incident.

Since the event, this incident has taken up a lot of my thoughts over the past 24 hours. I feel that I took the right actions in the situation: find cover, get a description of the perpetrator, call 911, and then get to safety when possible. I don’t have any regrets on the actions I took, and I don’t have any fears about walking around in public or anything (although I am sure I will be thinking about cover and concealment a lot more for the next few months), and thankfully nobody was injured so that provides great relief. However, because it was so random, I had such close physical proximity to the threat, and few “lessons to learn” from the experience, there is more feelings of confusion left in its wake then similar situations might. It is odd to process. The experiences feel outside of the realm of standard life experiences. Like another dimensional plane, this kind of event lives at a different level in my mind. It also has few connections to the real-world realm, which leaves it floating like a radioactive piece of material in my brain. Only time will tell how this gets processed, but this article can serve as a good reference point of the fresh memories and feelings from the incident.

2022-12-08 Update:

More details have been released from court documents. Sounds like the shooter, Benjamin Crofoot, had been threatening people at the beginning of the incident, and that it wasn’t multiple clips, but a gun malfunction that stopped him in the middle.

“Witnesses say they saw a man walking down the street when he got very angry, threw his coffee at a car before reaching into his waistband pulling out a gun.

The man pointed the gun at several witnesses then pointed it into the air and started to open-fire. The gun began to malfunction but as soon as it started working again the man continued shoot.

The Spokane Police Department arrived on scene shortly after and found the gun on the ground. SPD was able detain the suspect who is now facing three counts of first degree assault, 28 counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm and one count of reckless endangerment.”

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