SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - On February 1, 2013, at about 2:19 a.m., Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputy J. Rodriguez responded to a theft call at Walmart located at 5025 E. Sprague Avenue. Employees provided a description of the suspect and said they watched as he concealed items into a backpack and ran out an emergency exit. Employees said the suspect was last seen jumping over a fence north of the business and running east down the railroad tracks.
Within a few minutes a Sheriff's K9 handler and his partner Brax observed a male subject walking eastbound on Sprague near Home Depot. As Deputy Rodriguez approached the suspect, later identified as 26-year-old Merle Roberts, he looked back at Deputy Rodriguez' patrol vehicle and ran eastbound on Sprague. Deputy Rodriguez activated his emergency lights and ordered Roberts to stop. Roberts continued running on the east side of the Home Depot failing to obey Deputy Rodriguez' commands.
K9 Brax and his handler located Roberts in the back of Home Depot and ordered him to stop. Roberts continued running northbound towards the railroad tracks failing to obey any commands. After it was announced Brax was going to be deployed Roberts continued running. K9 Brax quickly introduced himself to Roberts and was taken into custody without incident.
Roberts told Deputy Rodriguez he stole all the items that were in the backpack. Roberts said he was bored, went into Walmart and began taking things he could use. He said he ran out the emergency door when he realized employees were watching him.
Roberts was booked into Spokane County Jail on the charge of Retail Theft with Extenuating Circumstances as well as a felony DOC warrant.