A The Dalles city police officer who was shot and wounded by a fleeing person of interest in a rape case returned fire, killing the man Wednesday night in Wishram.
The officer, a 17-year veteran of the department, was taken to Mid-Columbia Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries, according to a press release from Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office.
The officer's name has not yet been released. The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury said the officer was kept in the hospital overnight and he hoped he would be released today.
He said the officer had a gunshot wound to the upper body. Officials are not releasing information about the caliber of the weapon that was fired at him. The shooting occurred at 8:11 p.m., Waterbury said.
Waterbury said he could not say whether the officer was wearing a protective vest. Department policy is that uniformed officers always wear vests, and plainclothes officers wear them “sometimes,” Waterbury said. The officer in the shooting is a plainclothes officer.
Members of The Dalles police and Oregon State Police were conducting an investigation into an alleged rape in The Dalles. They developed a subject of interest and learned he was living in Wishram, a press release stated.
The officers came to Wishram to continue their investigation, and contacted Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office for assistance, according to the press release.
An Oregon State Police detective and a sergeant from the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office made contact at a residence in the 100 block of E. Main Street in Wishram.
They saw the person of interest through a window, and as he approached the door, he was seen to have a firearm.
The man fled out the back of the residence, where additional officers from The Dalles police were positioned, the press release stated. After a pursuit of about one-block, the man fired on The Dalles officer. The officer returned fire. The man was declared dead on scene.
“We’re thankful for the police officers that stand in the gap between good and evil,” said Charlie Hargrove, pastor of Wishram Community Church. Hargrove is also a volunteer firefighter, but said he could not disclose information about the scene.
“I heard the pops and thought it was fireworks,” said a local resident who asked not to be named. “They sounded like firecrackers. It was just pop, pop, pop, pop, and I thought, ‘Oh, here we go again, someone’s setting off fireworks, and my dog is going to go wild.’”
The shooting bears similarities to a recent officer-involved shooting near Biggs Junction where an Oregon State Police trooper pulled over a man in August and the man fired at the trooper, wounding him, and the trooper returned fire, killing the man.
The last officer-involved shooting involving The Dalles police took place in September 2012, where two city officers fatally shot a knife-wielding man, who was also a suspect in a sexual assault.