Monday, January 12, 2015

A roundup of local reporting on Saturday’s Moscow, Idaho, shootings

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 4:22 PM

A killing spree allegedly carried out by 29-year-old John Lee on Saturday afternoon in Moscow, Idaho, resulted in three deaths and one hospitalization.

KXLY/John Hendricks

On Saturday, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News outlined the basic facts:

According to Moscow Police, Lee is suspected of killing Moscow businessman David Trail, 76, in the office the apartments he owns at 303 E. Third St. in Moscow. He also allegedly shot and killed Arby’s restaurant manager Belinda Niebuhr, 47, at the restaurant located on Peterson Drive. His third alleged victim, his 61-year-old adoptive mother Terri Grzebielski, was allegedly killed at her home at the 400 block of Veatch Street.

Also injured in the assault was Seattle resident Michael Chin, 39, who was taken to Gritman Medical Center and is listed in critical condition. Chin was also shot in Trail’s office, and was the man who first alerted police of a shooting at 2:31 p.m.

The Spokesman-Review detailed the high-speed chase that followed, ending with the suspect’s car rolling.

After the shooter fled Arby’s, Duke said, police notified area law enforcement about the suspect’s car.

A Pullman police officer spotted it on state Highway 270 just entering city limits, said Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers. The driver sped away, starting a high-speed chase that at times exceeded 100 mph through dense fog, Myers said. Whitman County deputies and Washington State Patrol troopers joined the pursuit. Troopers and Colfax police blocked side streets as the chase went through Colfax.

Lee lost control of the 2009 Honda Fit on state Highway 195 just south of Steptoe, Washington, Myers said. The car rolled, but he suffered only minor injuries and did not fight arrest after the crash. He was first taken to Whitman Hospital and Medical Center in Colfax, Pullman police said in a news release. He later was booked into the Whitman County Jail on a charge of eluding police.

The Associated Press reports that a laptop computer, recovered in the suspect’s vehicle, could help with figuring out a motive:

Investigators say a laptop computer from the vehicle of a man suspected in a deadly shooting spree in western Idaho could yield clues to a motive for the violence.

Moscow Police Chief David Duke said investigators searched the car of 29-year-old John Lee, recovering two semi-automatic pistols, a revolver, a shotgun and a rifle, along with the laptop.

The Boise Weekly’s writeup includes the reaction from the University of Idaho.

Hours later, the U of I sent out its condolences.

"Moscow Family Medicine Physician Assistant Terri Grzebielski was a provider at the U of I Student Health Center for many years where she was highly valued and respected," wrote University of Idaho President Chuck Staben. "David Trail was a Vandal alumnus and longtime U of I supporter. His dedication to the community and to the university will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with all of the victims' families and friends tonight.

KHQ’s Gabe Cohen’s Twitter feed has a stream of details and photos, including the suspect’s yearbook photo. KHQ reports that bail for Lee was set at $500,000 at a hearing Monday afternoon.

Lee's next court appearance will be on Friday, January 16, 2015 where he will be arraigned on the Eluding charge. The judge said during Monday's hearing, "I want to get these charges out of the way before he's extradited."

Following his arraignment on Friday, Lee will have an extradition hearing to decide when he will head back to Latah County in Idaho to face three counts of First Degree Murder and one count of Attempted First Degree Murder.

KXLY began looking into the shooter’s past:

KXLY also learned that Lee moved away from Moscow a couple of years ago and just recently moved back. Police tell us when he moved away he changed his name from Kane Grzebielski to John Lee.

KXLY also interviewed some of the friends and family mourning their loved ones, and detailed a candlelight vigil held Sunday night

We lost a mother, we didn't just lose a manager,” said Pat Rogers, Vice President of Operations for Happy Day Restaurants.

Rogers, who knew shooting victim Belinda Niebuhr, says she loved her job at the Moscow Arby's and worked hard every day. He says she never gave up and worked hard to become manager and a mentor to employees.

“They loved her, these kids loved her and I've had a lot of good managers, but she just connected,” Rogers said.

Sunday morning the reader board at Arby's was changed and flowers were placed outside the parking lot to remembered a woman many called “Mom.”

The University of Idaho’s student paper, The Argonaut, also detailed the multiple vigils held after the shooting, and the wounds suffered by the community.

A prayer vigil was held at the First United Methodist Church in Moscow Sunday night to remember all of the victims.

“We ask why such a thing can happen and have no answers,” community members prayed in unison at the vigil. “So we gather as a community, as people from many faith traditions and none, to seek comfort and to stand against violence and for peace and justice.”

Alan Rose, a Moscow resident for the past 45 years, attended the vigil at First United. He personally knew Grzebielski and Chin, and though he never personally worked with Trail, knew the prominent Moscow family well.

“Terri, she was a light in the community,” Rose said. “She loved to dance and sing, and when she was on the dance floor she epitomized what life was about. I also knew Michael from when he grew up here. He is a marvelous young man with so much life ahead of him and this is just a tragedy.”

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...