Former Oroville Principal Frank Motta killed

Oroville High School Annual photo of Frank Motta in his first job as a principal at Oroville High School.

Oroville High School Annual photo of Frank Motta in his first job as a principal at Oroville High School.

SPOKANE – Former Oroville High School Principal Frank Motta died from injuries sustained while trying to help a neighbor whose Spokane area home had been overrun by a teenage party.

Apparently Motta was asked to keep an eye on the house by his neighbor and on Saturday, March 10 when he saw there was a party going on he called the neighbor who was out of town. She gave him the security code to the garage door and called 911. Motta then went to try and break up the party.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to an assault call in North Spokane County. When deputies arrived on scene they found a male subject in the residence had been assaulted, according to Craig Chamberlain, a spokesman with the Spokane County Sheriff’s office.

“There were over 100 people at the residence where there had been a large party throughout the evening. Deputies immediately requested medics when they located the victim. The victim was transported to a local medical facility where he is listed in critical condition,” said a Spokane Sheriff’s office press release.

Investigators identified the suspect as Treven Lewis, an 18-year-old who is accused of knocking Motta to the ground and beating him in front of several witnesses at the party. The Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team was requested to assist locating Lewis and located him at his residence. They arrested him and transported to the Spokane County Jail where he was interviewed by Major Crimes Detectives. He was booked into the Spokane County Jail on the charge of felony assault.

Motta, who was in critical condition at Sacred Heart Hospital, died of his injuries on March 15. Information Officer Chamberlain speculated that the charges against Lewis would be upgraded to second degree murder by the Spokane County Prosecutor’s office, but as of Monday they were still listed as first degree assault.

When Motta came to Oroville in 1981 to take his first principal’s job he was just 34-years-old and stayed here for four years, according to his good friend Don DeVon, who served under Motta as a high school counselor in Oroville, as well as in Palm Desert, Calif. DeVon described Motta as a “highly innovative” educator who always had an open door policy to students, staff, parents and the community in general.

“When Frank first came to Oroville to take his first principal’s job he hit the ground running. His enthusiasm was a positive motivators for students and staff,” DeVon said.

Motta went on to be the youngest president of the Washington State Principal’s Association, according to his friend, who added that he had also been a well-respected football coach in several high schools in Washington State before becoming a principal.

“He played college football at the University of California at Irvine,” said DeVon, “and he was a highly decorated combat veteran who won the bronze star.”

After retiring as a teacher and principal for schools in Washington and California, Motta settled in Spokane with his wife and family. He was working as a volunteer at the Spokane Veterans Administration Hospital. The 65-year-old was a combat Air Force Veteran who served in Vietnam. He had recently been hired as a patient advocate at the VA Hospital.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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