Astoria police say motel shootout suspect may be from Washougal

Man's identity still not determined

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Updated: February 13, 2012, 5:41 PM

 

ASTORIA,Ore. — Authorities were trying Monday to pin down the identity of a man who was hit twice in a shootout with police but still managed to escape from a motel room and lead them on a 25-mile chase along northwest Oregon highways.

The suspect is believed to be in his 40s and from Washougal, the Daily Astorian reported.

“With his identity, one of our concerns is, we have at least two names for him,” Astoria police Deputy Chief Brad Johnston said. “We’re not trying to be coy. We actually want to be sure of the information prior to releasing it.”

The man was under guard at a Portland hospital. Police used spike strips and a cruiser to halt his car on Sunday evening.

Agents from the FBI and Homeland Security, along with Oregon State Police, are investigating the shootout, the paper reported.

Authorities said police were called to the Lamplighter Motel about 12:30 p.m. Sunday to investigate suspicious circumstances involving a man at the site. Police wouldn’t provide further details on the incident.

The man wasn’t in his street-level room, but the motel staff alerted police when he returned late in the afternoon.

Three officers, including a recruit out of the academy for seven weeks, arrived to talk to the man, but he wouldn’t let them in, said District Attorney Josh Marquis.

“In very short order, the subject in the room started firing what we believe is a handgun,” Marquis said. “Officers took cover, two officers returned fire.”

Bystander Phil Hall was pumping gas at a nearby station and said he heard 10 to 15 shots.

“This was almost like semi-auto fire,” he said. “It was pretty serious.”

Police said it wasn’t clear how the man got away to his rented Chrysler van. He sped south on U.S. Highway 101 and then east on U.S. 26. Officers laid down spike strips, and one officer used his cruiser to bash the other vehicle and bring the chase to an end.

“At the cost of a sheriff’s car, (officers) managed to stop the vehicle,” Marquis said.

The man’s injuries were not considered life-threatening, but “he’s got some surgeries ahead of him,” Marquis said.

Marquis said he didn't expect a grand jury to consider the officers' roles in the shooting, as happens in some counties.

"In this county, that is not conducted, unless there is a belief that the officers may have somehow misconducted themselves," he said. "And in this case, from what I know, there is no reason to believe that."