Monday, the same day the name of the Spokane Valley Police officer who shot and killed a longtime local business owner and pastor was revealed, hundreds gathered to pay their respects and goodbyes to Wayne Scott Creach.
And later this week, as Creach’s remains are taken to Red Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma for burial, the fact-finding as to what happened on the evening of Aug. 25 at the Plant Farm, 14208 E. Fourth Ave., will continue in earnest, promised Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
“I want to assure the community that a full and complete investigation is being conducted and that as soon as all of the facts surrounding this incident are known, the community will be provided with a full account of those facts,” Knezovich said last Friday, two days after Creach died.
Brian Hirzel, who has worked for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office – and, through a contract with the city, a Spokane Valley Police officer – was to be interviewed Thursday to determine why he fatally shot the 74-year-old Creach on the Plant Farm property. The Spokane Police Department – under a “critical incident protocol” where one jurisdiction investigates another in cases of officer-involved shootings – was to conduct the interview.
What’s known is that Creach, apparently after being awakened by a noise, grabbed a handgun and approached an unmarked police car that was in the parking lot of the Plant Farm, his business that is located next door to the Creach home.
A confrontation – Creach’s wife, Imogene, reportedly heard raised voices – occurred before the uniformed officer fired his weapon and shot Creach in the chest. When responding officers arrived, a gun was found next to Creach.
Earlier that day, a request had been made for increased police patrols in the area of the Plant Farm, and a neighbor had called and made a request for a prowl check shortly before the incident.
A statement from the Creach family read: “We would like to take this opportunity to say that while we are in shock and extreme grief, we know that the deputy who was involved in this tragedy is also dealing with his own personal crises. Our family extends our compassion our prayers to him…we know he will carry the memory (of this) tragedy with him for the rest of his life.”
Creach, who could often be heard giving gardening advice over the radio, was raised by his grandparents and grew up on a farm outside of Hammon, Okla., before moving with his family to the Spokane Valley in 1965. He worked at Early Dawn as a supervisor 1974 while developing his greenhouse business at the same location it exists today.
While also tending the soil, Creach also grew his flock at Greenacres Baptist Church, which he started in 1971 at its current location at 18620 E. Sprague.
That was the location of Creach’s service on Monday, where the end of his life was not emphasized. Rather – in an outdoor tent to better accommodate the hundreds that came to pay their respects – his work as a “good shepherd who was loved by his sheep” was the focus.
“He had an opinion on everything,” said Eric Walsh, a colleague of Creach’s at the church. “Inside that gruff exterior was a tender heart.”
Buck Keely – who also worked with Creach – said he felt like a son to the pastor, who he described as a “man of convictions.”
“In his life story, you can see the handprints of God all over it,” he said.
Lee Williams said Creach was “an encouraging man.”
“If he were here, he would encourage you over and over again to glorify the word of God,” he said.
Sons Alan and Ernie Creach have said they will continue to work at the Plant Farm to “continue the legacy their father began and loved…his interaction with the community brought him joy and satisfaction.”
Creach is also survived by two daughters, Serena and Edith, along with his two sons, plus 12 grandchildren, one great-grandchild and his wife, Imogene.