Spirit Lake PD makes arrest after multi-agency manhunt
Spirit Lake Police Department's Lt. Eric Reade, left and Chief Michael Morlan began rebuilding the city's police force Aug. 9, with a vision to be fully independent again.
Hagadone News Network | October 7, 2023 1:00 AM
A weeklong multi-agency pursuit culminated Thursday when Spirit Lake officers arrested a man accused of grand theft auto, grand theft of a firearm and possession of methamphetamine.
Investigations are ongoing at the Rathdrum Police Department, Idaho State Police and the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, which could pursue charges of evading arrest and attempting to flee against the suspect, Robert Goldsby.
Goldsby also has warrants in Montana and Ohio, Spirit Lake Lt. Eric Reade said. Reade was the first to arrive on scene at Goldsby’s arrest Oct. 5.
The apprehension comes as the Spirit Lake Police Department is rebuilding following the departure several months ago of several officers, which left the department critically understaffed. Five out of six officers have been hired since mid-August, and two more are expected to be hired in the coming week.
The Spirit Lake Police Department is taking work off the sheriff’s plate, Police Chief Michael Morlan said.
“And the plan is, it’s going to get better, relationships are going to get better,” Lt. Eric Reade said.
The incident involving Goldsby began Sept. 29, when the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office received a report at roughly 5 p.m. of a stolen vehicle in Athol. The sheriff's office communicated later that evening with Lt. Reade that the vehicle was abandoned in Spirit Lake. The suspect had reportedly fled into the forest around 10th Avenue and Maine Street, Chief Morlan said.
ISP and sheriff’s deputies searched near the abandoned vehicle with a K-9 unit and the ABLE 1 helicopter, but were unable to locate the suspect.
Over the following days, the Spirit Lake Police Department engaged with the community, posting a description and later photos of the suspect and asked for support to find him.
The suspect was reportedly seen Sunday at a church and in a video asking two men if they knew where he could get some food. Witnesses told police he then walked across the street to a gas station, got into a truck and drove away.
It was later learned he did not own the truck and the owner had left his keys in the vehicle. The owner also told police that inside the truck was a gun and a significant amount of ammunition.
Spirit Lake Police Cpl. Kevin Ward found a truck matching the description of the stolen truck Tuesday, Oct. 3, by the docks on Spirit Lake. Ward noticed the truck had two license plates, the top one registered to a jeep. After removing that license plate the one underneath matched the plate from the stolen truck.
Ward did not find the gun or ammo that had reportedly been in the truck.
“Video confirmed or identified who our suspect was,” Chief Morlan said. “And some evidence from the truck. The guys processed evidence.”
Over the next few days, police received occasional suspicious person calls and conducted grid searches in the areas, Morlan said.
“He had been moving around through the area in the woods, down by the lake using trails and old railroad grades,” Morlan said. “He was going to A Cup of Grace, a food bank and Bonner County.”
Members of A Cup of Grace Church called the Spirit Lake Police Department saying a man matching the description of the suspect had come to the church Oct. 5.
“They said he was walking north, out of town toward Bonner County, and so I immediately got in my vehicle,” Reade said. “When I was in the area of Third Avenue and Madison, I observed a man later identified as the suspect. He was standing next to two individuals at a house where there was some construction equipment. He was wearing the same clothes, same description of the face, so I knew it was the suspect.”
Because the suspect could be armed, Reade immediately called for backup and asked the man to get on his knees. He held him there until Spirit Lake Cpl. Jim Windrem arrived as backup, and they arrested Goldsby without incident.
“Myself and Cpl. Windrem took him into custody,” Reade said. “We were able to recover the bullets that were stolen from the vehicle. We recovered the gun that was stolen from the vehicle. We recovered narcotics that were on his person.”
Reade and Morlan attribute the success of the arrest to a multi-agency collaboration and the help and support from the community.
“Spirit Lake Police went to the community, we put a photo up on our website of the suspect, a description,” Reade said. “If they happen to see him please contact the Spirit Lake Police Department. We had talked to some of the local churches to tell them, ‘Hey, had they seen this individual?’”
Communication and support from the sheriff’s office was also instrumental, Reade said.
“We’re gladly cooperating,” Reade said. “As a police force that’s getting back up and running, we’re able to immediately make an impact in our community. We have some other cases that we’re working, as well.”