Creach, 74, was shot and killed Aug. 25 after a brief confrontation with Hirzel just before midnight in the parking lot of his retail store and greenhouse in Spokane Valley, Wash. Creach’s son, Alan Creach, told Today’s Garden Center Monday there are serious implications for nursery operators coming out of this decision.
“This is an absolute atrocity, and I want the nation to know it,” the younger Creach says. “I think about all the people in the garden center industry that are like us, a homegrown business where the property (a home) is on the business.”
No one from the sheriff’s department had asked for permission to be in the parking lot of the business, he adds. “We’re still trying to find the facts out. It’s not just the community that’s outraged; it’s everybody who think ‘This could have been me.'”
He noted the family home was about 100 feet away from the parking lot, where around 11 p.m. Aug. 25, his father heard a car pull in despite being closed. Wayne Scott Creach got out of bed and, with a handgun and flashlight, went to investigate the dark, unmarked car in the parking lot.
Based on a detailed account Hirzel gave investigators, the deputy had parked in the lot after hours in response to a neighbor’s request earlier in the day for additional patrols. He was doing paperwork when Creach approached his unmarked vehicle. The deputy told investigators he pulled his gun, pointed it at Creach and told him to “drop the weapon.”
It’s here that Alan Creach says the evidence is conflicting. Hirzel told investigators he conversed with the elder Creach, who told him people had stolen from him before. Hirzel says he called for backup and got out of the car, ordering Creach to the ground. He says Creach refused so he hit Creach in the knee with his baton. After Creach steadied himself he began to reach behind him, according to Hirzel’s version, so Hirzel drew his weapon and fired.
However, the Washington State Patrol does not support the assertion that there was a baton strike, and Alan Creach points to autopsy results that show a wound that may indicate his father was not face to face with the deputy. He also says his mother–who was in the house at the time–nor any of the other ear witnesses who heard the gunshot, heard the conversation Hirzel claims prior to the shot.
Alan Creach says it is with discrepencies in timing and in the deputy’s account to which he and his family take exception. But most of all, he says the bigger issue is safety of business owners on their own property and their right to carry a weapon. “Where this whole thing is going we have a police state where private property is no longer being respected,” he says. “(Some) nursery owners probably would go out if they saw a similar situation with a weapon on their person. They have to have the realization that if they have it on their person and it’s a police officer, they could be shot and killed.”