Car chase beginning in Vancouver ends in Portland

Suspect reaches 105 mph on Interstate 5 south

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter


Updated: December 18, 2013, 11:11 PM

photoClick to enlarge.
Where the chase ended

A wanted man in a pickup barreled down Interstate 5 at speeds reportedly reaching 105 mph as Vancouver and U.S. Marshals Service officers gave chase into North Portland shortly before noon Wednesday.

The pursuit began near Beaches Restaurant at Southeast Columbia Shores Boulevard and Columbia River Drive. The white Ford pickup emblazoned with U-Haul stickers was eventually pinned by Portland police patrol cars and held at gunpoint at North Hodge Avenue and Trenton Street, about 25 blocks north of the University of Portland. Then, officers reportedly took the three occupants out of the pickup one at a time.

The prime suspect, Michael James Allen, 27, wanted on an Oregon parole violation warrant, was arrested and taken into custody, said Sgt. Pete Simpson, spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau. He was also a suspect in “Operation White Christmas,” a joint federal and state investigation led by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office into drug trafficking, firearms and stolen property. As part of that investigation, 40 people were indicted in early December and accused of being members of white supremacist groups involved in various crimes in Multnomah County.

Two women, Kathryn Ann Eisenblatter, 23, and Jaymie Anne Weaver-Butler, 20, also were arrested on outstanding warrants, Simpson said.

Kim Kapp, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police Department, said Vancouver police were assisting Oregon’s U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force when the suspect took off.

Police are still determining the chase route, Simpson said. One observer saw the pickup on Fourth Plain Boulevard, heading to I-5.

At 11:56 a.m., an officer reported over emergency radio traffic that the chase had entered southbound

I-5 and the suspect was traveling at 105 mph.

The pickup entered North Portland, continued onto Lombard Street and headed toward the St. Johns neighborhood.

During the pursuit, the fleeing vehicle attempted to ram several police cars, Simpson said.

At North Trenton Street and Hodge Avenue, an officer struck and possibly purposely rammed the pickup, ending the pursuit. Multiple officers arrived and boxed in the pickup, preventing an escape.

No one was injured in the pursuit, aside from the officer whose cruiser struck the pickup. The 21-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau had injuries that were not life-threatening, and he was treated by medical personnel. His name was not released.

Portland police consider using a vehicle to ram another vehicle a use of deadly force, so a full investigation is underway, Simpson said. With all of the chaos, he said, it’s currently unclear whether the officer rammed the pickup or used the Pursuit Intervention Technique, or PIT maneuver, an authorized way of pushing pursuing vehicles into a controlled stop.

He added that it was fortunate only one person was injured in the pursuit. Simpson did not know if the suspect’s manic driving caused collisions anywhere along his path.

Although pursuits are inherently dangerous, Simpson said, police considered the fugitive a greater danger to the public if they let him go.

Each officer involved in the pursuit will write a police report that helps the agencies determine exactly what happened; they will also be put on paid leave, Simpson said.

Wednesday afternoon, officers cordoned off multiple blocks in the Portsmouth neighborhood, where the chase ended. They evaluated the scene, interviewed people and briefed Portland police Chief Mike Reese.