Documents detail escape try by victim in Idaho killings

AP News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2015 2:10 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A fast-food restaurant manager tried to escape a gunman by jumping out a drive-thru window before being shot and killed as part of a violent rampage that left two other people dead, according to court documents obtained Wednesday.

The police affidavit disclosed details about the deaths on Saturday of restaurant manager Belinda Niebuhr, 47, and two other people, including the mother of the suspect, in Moscow, Idaho.

However, the documents did not provide a motive for the shootings.

Authorities say John Lee, 29, shot and killed Niebuhr, his mother and his landlord at separate locations before fleeing to Washington state.

Lee remained on suicide watch in the Whitman County Jail. An extradition hearing set for Friday will determine if he returns voluntarily to Idaho, where he faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder.

He faces a felony charge of eluding law officers in Whitman County.

Lee's court-appointed attorney, Steve Martonick, declined to comment.

The court documents say police were first dispatched to the office of Northwest Mutual financial services in Moscow on Saturday afternoon after receiving a 911 call from shooting victim Michael Chin, 39.

Officers found David Trail, 76, with multiple gunshot wounds and had him transported to Pullman Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Trail was Lee's landlord.

Chin, who had been meeting with Trail, was shot several times in the arm and leg. He described the shooter as a heavy-set Asian male, the documents state.

Lee lived in an apartment complex above the insurance office.

"Chin reported that he was meeting with Trail when Lee walked into the office and began firing," the documents state. "Trail was shot first. At some point, Lee left the office and Chin hid under a desk.

"Lee then returned and shot Chin, and then shot Trail several more times."

Chin was taken to a hospital in Spokane, Washington. His condition could not be determined Wednesday.

Police then received a report of another shooting at an Arby's restaurant.

Police found Niebuhr lying in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Two women inside the restaurant told detectives they saw a man matching Lee's description walk in and ask for the manager. Niebuhr came out of the back to speak with him.

One witness told officers she heard the man say: "Do you remember me?" before pulling the trigger of his gun.

The gun clicked and didn't fire the first few times, a witness told officers.

Niebuhr ran and dove out the drive-thru window but was followed and shot several times, documents said.

A witness in the parking lot told detectives she heard several loud bangs and then saw a man walk away from the restaurant in a black coat, carrying a pistol.

Using her cellphone, the witness took 11 photos as the gunman drove away in a small black car. The photos were forwarded to the Pullman, Washington, Police Department as Lee drove across the state line, the documents state.

Pullman officers tried to stop him but said Lee led them on a pursuit in Whitman County that hit speeds exceeding 100 mph.

North of Colfax, Washington, Lee lost control of his car on U.S. Highway 195 and rolled several times off the side of the road.

Five firearms and a laptop computer were found inside the vehicle, the documents say

After Lee was arrested, Moscow police conducted a welfare check on Lee's parents, Terri and Jerry Grzebielski. Officers found Terri Grzebielski, 61, dead of gunshot wounds in her home. Shell casings from a 9mm handgun were found at the scene.

The whereabouts of Jerry Grzebielski were unclear.