By Scott North Herald Writer
EVERETT — An 11-time felon is looking at decades in prison if convicted as charged for allegedly firing a handgun while trying to get away from security after shoplifting at the Everett Mall.
Charles F. Sprague III, 26, was charged Friday with four counts of second-degree assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Each of the Snohomish County Superior Court charges carries the possibility of extra prison time for Sprague because prosecutors are alleging he used a gun and also was on parole when the July 2 mayhem erupted.
Sprague and his companion, Stephanie Boyle, 27, were spotted allegedly trying to steal clothing at the Macy’s store. The pair fought when confronted by loss-prevention officers, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said in court papers.
The mall security workers were joined by two off-duty police officers, who spotted the melee. Boyle was trying to get Sprague free, Stemler wrote. The defendant, meanwhile, reportedly pulled a .40-caliber handgun, and bit one of the officers during the struggle for control of the weapon.
“The defendant actually fired his gun,” Stemler said. “Fortunately, the bullet hit Macy’s door and not a person.”
When Sprague was eventually disarmed, officers realized that the handgun had jammed, according to court papers.
The 5:30 p.m. gunfire sent customers scrambling to the exits. Police converged on the mall, fearing a shooter was going after shoppers.
Boyle escaped in the confusion. She was tracked down and arrested at her home in Everett the next day. She remains locked up. Superior Court charges are pending.
Sprague’s criminal career has largely focused on theft and drugs. When arrested in July, he was on community custody following his February release from his most-recent prison sentence. He also was out on bail awaiting a September sentencing for possessing stolen property.
The new charges could send Sprague to prison for decades. Each of the four assault counts carries the potential for a mandatory minimum five-year sentence under the state’s “hard time for armed crime” law. Those sentences, if imposed, would be served consecutively.
Although the new charges would constitute “strikes” under the state’s persistent offender law, Sprague isn’t looking at a potential life sentence because he hasn’t been convicted of other violent felonies.
Scott North: 425-339-3431, firstname.lastname@example.org.