Man shot and killed by police Sunday after West Central house fire identified, suspected arsonist arrested


The man who police killed after they say he shot at them Sunday night following a West Central house fire was identified Tuesday as Alan Jenks.

Jenks, 38, died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner.

Officers and firefighters were called to 1820 W. Dean Ave. at about 10 p.m. Sunday when a neighbor reported the fire. Police and firefighters removed multiple people from the home, according to a news release from Spokane Police.

Officials suspected the fire may have been intentionally set and began interviewing witnesses. A man “was not cooperative” and walked away, the police news release said. When officers attempted to arrest him, he “discharged a firearm,” police said. Two officers returned fire.

Officers treated the suspect after he was disarmed, but he died on the scene, police said.

No one else was injured.

Dave Middleton, who has lived on the block for 20 years, said transients had been living in the home after the elderly neighbors moved out. Neighbors have called police multiple times over noise and drug issues in recent months, he said.

Police arrested Nicholes Whitney, 43, on suspicion of six counts of arson, according to court records.

Whitney, known as “Gorilla Mike,” lived at the Dean Avenue home with at least six other people, a witness told police.

On Sunday night, Whitney knocked on the basement bedroom door of the house and began talking about how he called his cousin and sister to come set the house on fire, according to court records.

Whitney said he was tired of having other residents of the house pull guns on him.

Not long after, other residents of the house saw smoke coming from the upstairs bedroom.

Officers arrested Whitney just after midnight on Tuesday, according to court records. Whitney told officers he was at a nearby gas station when the fire started.

Whitney has a lengthy criminal history over the past decade, including multiple domestic violence assault convictions, along with convictions for burglary, theft and assault, according to court documents.