Bank robber shot by police identified as popular chef
Cody Spafford, a sous chef at the restaurant The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard, was shot by police on Thursday after he robbed a bank at gunpoint and threatened an officer with a knife.
Seattle Times staff reporter
What drove a sous chef at one of Seattle’s most critically acclaimed restaurants to don a disguise and rob a bank at gunpoint, before being fatally shot by a police detective, has perplexed his close friends.
Cody Spafford, 26, who was shot after a 2½-hour manhunt Thursday in Seattle’s Denny-Blaine neighborhood, was just weeks away from starting a new job at a Manhattan restaurant, said co-worker Jeremy Price.
He had friends who loved him and was well-respected at the restaurant where he worked, The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard.
“He was a well-trusted employee and friend,” said friend and co-worker Chad Dale. “We do not know the circumstances that led to this apparent act of desperation, but we know it was not him.”
On Friday, Seattle police held a news conference to discuss the shooting, displaying bank-surveillance photos of a person with a ghostly pale face, a fake nose, dark hair and a ball cap pointing a handgun inside the Madison Park Wells Fargo Bank branch. Police said the armed robber pointed the handgun at the head of at least one bank employee.
Law-enforcement sources identified the armed man as Spafford.
Assistant Chief Paul McDonough told reporters that the armed man was handed an undisclosed amount of cash during the takeover-style bank robbery and drove off in a silver Hyundai. He drove past the historic homes and the mansions of Madison Park and Denny-Blaine before flipping the car at 39th Avenue East and East John Street.
He walked away with a rolling suitcase.
Two women, who declined to identify themselves, said they were out for a walk when they saw the car speed by them on McGilvra Boulevard East. They said the driver was rubbing what appeared to be heavy black eyeliner off his face.
Moments later the Hyundai crashed.
When police arrived they found the car and an abandoned disguise, McDonough said. Officers also found an Airsoft BB gun, the one used in the robbery, cash and drug paraphernalia in the Hyundai.
Police and a King County sheriff’s search dog scoured the neighborhood for the robber. Around 11:45 a.m. an officer in the neighborhood saw someone running in a yard and called in additional officers.
The man climbed on top of a garage and Detective Jim Rogers chased after him, McDonough said.
Rogers ordered the man to drop a knife he was holding. The man refused and “charged” at Rogers, who responded by opening fire, McDonough said.
Spafford died of multiple gunshots at the scene.
Rogers, a 15-year veteran of the department, is on administrative leave as the case is being investigated. This was his third officer-involved shooting, said McDonough.
In July 2009, Rogers shot and wounded a Shoreline bank robber after he fled the bank and rammed a patrol car in North Seattle. Rogers fired four rounds at a truck, striking Gerald Tracy in the arms.
Details on the third shooting were not immediately known.
McDonough said during Friday’s news conference that as a member of the Puget Sound Violent Crimes Task Force, Rogers is often in “high-risk” situations. He said Rogers had the right to respond the way he did if someone was coming at him with a knife.
Police on Friday displayed photos of the Airsoft replica gun, Spafford’s car and the wood-handled, fixed-blade knife he was armed with.
McDonough said that detectives are looking in to other bank robberies to see if Spafford could be behind additional cases.
Spafford had no history of violent crime, according to court records.
His criminal record includes a conviction for felony possession of marijuana out of Sherman County, Ore., a case that resulted in Spafford serving part of his probation under the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) supervision after he moved here. Spafford also has convictions for misdemeanor theft, drug possession and failure to stop upon command of law enforcement charges in Utah.
Norah West, DOC spokeswoman, said Spafford was supervised by community corrections staff in their Northgate office from June 2011 until May of last year.
“Cody was a beloved member of our family. He was hardworking, unassuming and kind. He was talented beyond his years, and was only beginning to explore the many opportunities before him,” Dale said in an email.
Spafford had worked at The Walrus and the Carpenter for nearly four years, Price said in an email.
“Clearly he was struggling, but he hid this from even his closest friends. The people that loved and cared for him had no idea that he was in trouble. Cody was very proud and stoic,” Price wrote. “Until the end, Cody was a reliable, caring friend and exceptional co-worker that made us laugh and left us looking forward to seeing him ‘next time.’ ”
The Walrus and the Carpenter said on its Facebook page that it would be closed Friday night “so that we may mourn the loss of a dear and beloved friend.”
Seattle Times news researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @SeattleSullivan