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Staff Writer | April 6, 2022 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — A man who was in custody after a weeklong, multi-state manhunt reportedly escaped his cell at the Kootenai County Jail over the weekend.

Jesse R. Spitzer, 30, of Sultan, Wash., was arrested in January for a string of alleged burglaries and vehicle thefts in Washington and North Idaho.

He was booked into the Kootenai County Jail on 30 charges, most of them felonies, and held on $1 million bail.

He is now facing additional charges of injuring jails and escape by a felon, both felonies. Prosecutors have also filed a habitual offender enhancement.

Around 2 a.m. Sunday, Spitzer reportedly pried a leg off the metal desk in his single-occupant cell and used it to smash the lock on the door.

Security footage appears to show Spitzer attempting to break windows and pry open doors in the facility.

Upon noticing Spitzer outside his cell, staff locked down the jail and instituted inmate escape protocols.

Personnel with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, Coeur d’Alene Police Department and Idaho State Police responded to secure the jail.

Spitzer reportedly surrendered after law enforcement deployed sting ball grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. He was uninjured, police said Tuesday.

One deputy sheriff reportedly sustained minor injuries while handcuffing Spitzer. Multiple uninvolved inmates suffered the effects of tear gas and were treated by medical staff.

Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris said he believes the escape attempt underscored how staffing challenges tied to wages are compromising public safety.

The jail reportedly had 24 open positions as of Tuesday, which represent a mix of detention deputies, control room operators and jail clerks.

Each position plays an important role in keeping the jail safe and secure for inmates and staff alike, Norris said.

“We need adequate staffing to help protect the community,” he said.

He said he believes the key to attracting and retaining additional staff is better pay.

To increase wages for jail staff, Norris said he’s open to multiple sources of funding, from levies to impact fees for large developments.

He’s also called on county commissioners to increase KCSO’s budget.

The jail reportedly operates at functional capacity most of the time. More than 80% of those incarcerated at any given time are facing felony charges — a reversal from years past, when misdemeanor offenders made up the bulk of the inmate population.

Norris pointed to Spitzer’s escape attempt as an example of how North Idaho’s growing population and shared borders with multiple states has increased the area’s need for law enforcement.

Spitzer reportedly went on the lam after he was suspected of stealing a vehicle in east Snohomish County on Jan. 21.

Police and K-9s chased Spitzer into the woods near Gold Bar, Wash., the following day, but he escaped.

He reappeared after a car crash in Chelan County but evaded authorities again.

Post Falls police responded Jan. 26 to a report that a firearm had been stolen out of a vehicle on Clearwater Loop.

Meanwhile, a nearby resident reported a suspicious person approaching a neighbor’s house.

Law enforcement located the suspect, identified as Spitzer.

He allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened to shoot himself if officers didn’t leave.

Spitzer reportedly led police on a foot chase, running through yards and jumping fences in the Woodbridge subdivision.

The Post Falls Special Response Team responded to a residence on Lynwood Court, where Spitzer was believed to be hiding in a shed.

Police found two firearms and other evidence, but not Spitzer.

Officers from multiple agencies caught up with Spitzer in Kellogg the next night.

He reportedly fled along eastbound I-90 in another stolen vehicle, with police in pursuit.

After a Shoshone County deputy deployed spike strips near Osburn, Spitzer continued into Wallace. He allegedly shot at police during the high-speed chase.

In Wallace, Spitzer reportedly jumped out of his damaged, still-moving vehicle on Front Street and carjacked a couple at gunpoint.

Law enforcement chased Spitzer over Lookout Pass and into Montana.

After Montana Highway Patrol disabled Spitzer’s vehicle near the town of Haugan, he allegedly threatened officers with a handgun and bolted.

Police arrested Spitzer around 9 a.m. on Jan. 28 after finding him hiding in a camper near the $50,000 Silver Dollar Bar and Motel.

In 2011, a 19-year-old Spitzer pleaded guilty to attempted murder with a deadly weapon and burglary after reportedly shooting at a sheriff’s sergeant while trying to avoid arrest in Nevada.

He was sentenced to up to 22 years in prison.


Spitzer is charged with more than 30 crimes, most of them felonies. Photo courtesy of KCSO.



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