By Eric Stevick and Diana Hefley Herald Writers
EVERETT — The man arrested Tuesday night for gunfire at the Everett Mall was just released from prison in February and was awaiting sentencing for a new felony he committed less than two months after he was freed.
Charles F. Sprague, 26, has a long criminal history that includes 11 felonies, some dating back to when he was a juvenile. Most of his crimes center around drugs and theft.
Sprague could be looking at a long stretch behind bars if he is convicted of crimes stemming from Tuesday evening’s chaos.
Sprague was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and assault. He also was wanted for failing to report to his community corrections officer.
The mall incident began around 5:45 p.m. after Sprague and a woman accompanying him allegedly were spotted on closed-circuit TV putting a black Nike brand T-shirt into a shopping bag and leaving Macy’s without paying for it, according to a police report.
A loss prevention officer and mall security attempted to stop Sprague and the woman near the west entrance at the north end of the mall.
The loss prevention officer pulled the shirt from the bag. Sprague allegedly began fighting and tried to pull away.
That’s when a mall security officer jumped on his back, joining in efforts to keep Sprague from escaping.
Sprague reportedly pulled out a .40-caliber handgun.
The mall security officer and suspect were on the ground and the officer grabbed Sprague’s wrists to control the gun.
Sprague’s companion then reportedly attempted to get the security officer off of Sprague and was pushing him and pulling his leg.
Two off-duty police officers who arrived at the mall saw the struggle and helped apprehend the suspect.
During the scrum, Sprague allegedly bit the mall security and plain-clothed officers, according to a police report.
The handgun was fired as the mall officer was attempting to get it away from the suspect.
“Sprague then shot the pistol and the round hit the metal door frame,” the police report said.
At that point, one of the police officers pulled his gun and ordered Sprague to stop resisting.
The mall officer was able to get the gun from the suspect and he was handcuffed by the Macy’s loss prevention officer.
Macy’s was locked down, and much of the nearby parking lot was emptied while police investigated.
The handgun and bullet were recovered.
People were running from the mall as officers arrived. Customers and employees were removed from the mall with police escorts. The Everett police south precinct is just across the street from the mall.
It’s not unusual for shoplifters to resist and assault store security officers in their attempts to escape, turning a misdemeanor into a felony, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said. The use of a gun to try to escape is very unusual, he said. Using a firearm during a robbery can add years to a sentence upon conviction under the state’s “hard time for armed crime” law.
The woman who was with the suspect has not been arrested, Snell said Wednesday.
Sprague pleaded guilty last month after he was caught on video in March trying to use a stolen credit card at a grocery store on Broadway in north Everett. The card had been stolen during a burglary. Also stolen from the home were two handguns. It is unclear if the gun used Tuesday was one of the stolen firearms. Sprague was out on bail and scheduled to be sentenced next month for second-degree possession of stolen property.
He was released from prison in February after being sentenced to nearly two years in state lock-up for trying outrun Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies in a car and also having heroin during another police stop.
Sprague was to have made an appearance on Wednesday in a Snohomish County district court. The hearing was postponed a day after he refused to leave his jail cell.
Herald reporter Rikki King contributed to this story.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org