Police siege takes twists, ends well

Man believed to be holed up in home later found at park

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

Updated: May 25, 2011, 9:37 PM

 

It was a large police siege that, as sometimes happens, wasn’t what it seemed to be.

But the four-hour operation ended well anyway, with no one hurt, and a suicidal man safely in custody.

The man being sought, Jeffery M. Conrad, 33, was in the Clark County Jail on Wednesday, one night after SWAT officers surrounded a Fircrest-neighborhood home, believing he was holed up in the attic with several firearms.

Officers later learned Conrad wasn’t in the Fircrest home after all, and captured him around midnight Tuesday, unarmed, at Heritage Park in Fisher’s Landing.

On Wednesday evening, Conrad was being held on $75,000 bail on suspicion of malicious mischief in a domestic-violence incident and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Conrad is scheduled to appear in court June 8, a jail officer said.

The incident began around 8 p.m. Tuesday, when officers went to a home at 11619 N.E. 14th St., north of Evergreen Memorial Gardens Cemetery, said Sgt. Duncan Hoss with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

The officers had a warrant to search the home for Conrad and arrest him. When they knocked, no one answered. Inside, officers saw items used for firearms such as gun cases. Noticing ceiling insulation on the floor, officers figured Conrad might be armed and hiding in the attic.

The officers called for SWAT team members to take positions around the home, Hoss said.

Officers told some close neighbors to stay away from windows because they’d be in the line of fire if Conrad emerged from the attic and garage and fired gunshots. Officers also blocked traffic around the home.

Officers began using loudspeakers to try and make contact with Conrad. They were telling him he was under arrest and to come outside unarmed.

About 10:30 p.m., officers radioed that they’d been told that Conrad was believed to be armed with three handguns and a rifle.

Also, officers radioed that he had told his girlfriend he’d shoot himself if he was contacted by police again.

An officer radioed that officers had spoken with Conrad on his cell phone but the connection broke off.

About 11:30 p.m., officers used flash-bang grenades at the home, according to a neighbor and emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian. Officers were about to deploy tear gas in the home when they learned Conrad wasn’t there.

Officers were told dispatchers had received a location “ping” from Conrad’s cellphone and he was elsewhere.

With the ping coordinates, officers moved their focus several miles away to the 17000 block of Southeast 29th Street, in the area of Heritage Park. Officers said Conrad was believed to be walking in the area. They said it was possible he was armed since weapons from his house hadn’t been accounted for.

Officers were told Conrad was suicidal and that, when he spoke on his cellphone, he was crying and talking about who should have custody of his children.

Shortly before midnight Tuesday, Vancouver police patrol officers went to the park, found Conrad and grabbed him, Hoss said. As it turned out, Conrad wasn’t armed. He was taken to the jail.