Parolee accused of raping stranger on way to work in Everett

Bail set at $250,000 for James Spitzer, who served time for a shootout with a Nevada sheriff’s sergeant in 2011.

EVERETT — A Snohomish County man who once served more than eight years in prison for shooting at a law officer in Nevada is now accused of raping a stranger in north Everett.

James Robert Spitzer, 34, was arrested Saturday morning for investigation of rape, kidnapping and obstructing justice, and for a fugitive warrant out of Nevada.

In 2011, he and his brother, Jessie Spitzer, pleaded guilty there to attempted murder with a deadly weapon and burglary. The brothers had fled Washington with a stolen gun in a stolen vehicle to avoid criminal warrants.

That day in 2010, White Pine County Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Fincher escaped injury when shots were fired at his patrol car during a traffic stop on a remote road just off U.S. 6. The deputy had been responding to a burglary report. James Spitzer later described the location where .357-caliber, .45-caliber and 9mm handguns had been discarded. Records in Nevada show the brothers were granted parole in 2018.

Around 8:40 a.m. Saturday, a woman called 911 from a Safeway store on Broadway to report that a woman in a bathroom told her she had been raped and was being held against her will by a man waiting outside the restroom door.

Police descended on the supermarket where they found the suspect outside the women’s bathroom. He initially refused to disclose his identity to police. Fingerprints taken at the jail matched James Spitzer, according to court papers.

The woman, who is in her early 30s, told police that she was walking to work around the 1800 block of Colby Avenue when she saw the suspect passing her. She reported that he came up behind her and struck her in the back of the head with an unknown object, causing her to fall. Police documented that the back of the woman’s head was swollen, consistent with being struck with an object.

The man then picked up the woman by her elbow and ordered her to hold his hand and to act normal or he would slit her throat, according to the woman’s report. The man then allegedly forced the woman to a nearby wooded area and raped her.

“As she was being raped, the victim reported that the suspect was holding what she believed to be a gun beside him,” the police report said. The woman reported she feared for her life.

She told police she faked a seizure to force the suspect to stop and told him she needed to use the bathroom. She convinced him to accompany her to the store in the 1700 block of Broadway. While at Safeway, she managed to alert staff, who called 911.

When police searched the suspect’s backpack, they found a realistic looking BB pistol, as well as a pink handbag belonging to the woman.

They also found a green scarf. The woman told police the scarf was not hers, but that the suspect made her wear it while she was being raped. She reported the suspect put the handbag into his backpack.

Spitzer told police that he is the woman’s boyfriend. She insisted she is not and had never seen the suspect before.

A judge on Monday set bail at $250,000. A court hearing related to the fugitive from justice warrant is set for later this month.

Eric Stevick: stevick@heraldnet.com.

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