Suspect arrested after 3 killed in Idaho shooting spree

(AP)– Investigators are probing the background of a suspect in a shooting spree in Moscow, Idaho, that left three people dead and another critically wounded.

John Lee, 29, was arrested following a high-speed chase in nearby Washington state after the shootings Saturday. Police believe he opened fire at three locations in the western Idaho city of Moscow, killing his landlord, his adoptive mother and a manager at a restaurant his parents frequented. A Seattle man was also critically injured.

Investigators searched Lee’s car and apartment late Saturday night, Moscow Police Chief David Duke said. They found two semi-automatic pistols, a revolver, a shotgun and a rifle in the vehicle, along with a laptop, he said. Ballistics tests were expected to help determine which weapons might have been used in the shootings.

Authorities were seeking a warrant to search the computer, he said.

“There’s still nothing to identify a specific motive as to why Mr. Lee took these actions,” Duke said.

The first death was that of Lee’s adoptive mother, Terri Grzebielski, 61, at her home. Police said Lee then headed to Northwest Mutual life insurance, where he shot his landlord, David Trail, 76, who was a local businessman and the brother of a former state representative, as well as Michael Chin, 39, of Seattle.

Duke said Chin had no link to Lee, but he was discussing business with Trail when the gunman arrived. Duke said Chin was shot in the arm and leg. Duke said Sunday that Chin was flown to a hospital in Spokane for treatment.

There were “some issues” regarding Lee’s apartment, Duke said, but no eviction proceedings that police were aware of.

Upon leaving the insurance office, the shooter drove to an Arby’s restaurant and asked for the manager. When she appeared, he pulled out a gun and opened fire. The manager, Belinda Niebuhr, 47, died at the Moscow hospital.

Duke told The Associated Press that Lee’s parents ate at the restaurant and knew the manager well, but it’s not clear whether Lee did as well. He did not work at the restaurant as far as police knew, Duke said.

Kelsey Stemrich said she was working at a cafe near Arby’s when she and a customer heard three gunshots and then saw people running from the restaurant. She says they took down the license-plate number of a car seen pulling away from the Arby’s and called it into police.

Police in Washington state spotted the suspect’s black Honda, and a chase involving multiple agencies ensued. Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said the pursuit lasted nearly 25 miles (40 kilometers), and Lee’s vehicle at times topped 100 mph (160 kph) before crashing and rolling to a stop.

Few details were available on Lee’s background. Duke said he had been adopted at birth, and he recently returned to Moscow after living for a few years in the Midwest.

Lee was taken to a hospital in Colfax, Washington state, for treatment of minor injuries before he was booked into a local jail. Duke said Idaho authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Lee for investigation of three counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder, and said they could take Lee into custody from Washington state by Monday unless he fights extradition.

Moscow is a city of about 25,000 people in northern Idaho.


Associated Press writers Steven DuBois and Phuong Le contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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