Police officer in critical condition after shooting

Two suspects in custody after east Vancouver incident

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



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11:34 a.m.: A motorcycle officer with the Vancouver Police Department's traffic unit pulls over a vehicle near Northeast 162nd Avenue and 34th Street. He's shot multiple times.

11:36 a.m.: The suspect vehicle, a black Ram pickup, speeds away and crashes into a tree at Northeast 148th Avenue and 34th Street. Two people flee from the vehicle. One suspect is caught within minutes.

11:38 a.m.: A woman stops to assist the wounded officer, tying a scarf around his head and neck. She uses his emergency radio to say that the officer has been shot. Jerry Kneppers, who lives nearby, sees her and calls 911 to report the shooting.

11:55 a.m.: A reverse-911 call is sent to residents within half a mile of the shooting, telling them to stay inside.

1:30 p.m.: The second suspect is held at gunpoint and taken into custody at a house near Northeast 143rd Avenue and 36th Street.

Vigil for wounded officer

• What: The public is invited to show support for the wounded Vancouver police officer at the hospital where he was admitted.

• When: 8 p.m. Tuesday.

• Where: The front lawn of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, 400 N.E. Mother Joseph Place, Vancouver.

A Vancouver police officer was shot and critically injured in east Vancouver on Monday, June 30, 2014.

A Vancouver police officer was critically injured in a shooting during a traffic stop Monday, sending all available officers on a two-hour manhunt before the last of two suspects was detained.

A motorcycle officer with the Vancouver traffic unit pulled over a vehicle near Northeast 162nd Avenue and 34th Street at about 11:30 a.m. The vehicle was stolen, police said. After the officer did not respond to a dispatcher, a resident came on the radio and said the officer had been shot, Vancouver police Lt. Scott Creager said.

The officer suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was in critical condition Monday at a local hospital, Vancouver police Chief James McElvain said at a press conference Monday afternoon. A source said the officer’s ballistic vest helped saved his life.

Nearby resident Jerry Kneppers said he came home from work Monday morning to eat lunch and let his dogs out when he heard several gunshots. He said he peeked over his wooden fence near 34th Street to see an older woman stop her silver Volkswagen Jetta, get out and help the officer.

“She was kind of holding him up and wrapping him up,” he said.

By the time he ran out of his house, Kneppers said, the officer was on the ground and the woman was cradling him. She had wrapped a towel or scarf around his neck and arm, he said. Kneppers called 911.

Two suspects in the stolen vehicle, believed to be a black Ram pickup truck, fled the scene shortly after the shooting, McElvain said. The truck crashed into a tree about 14 blocks west on 34th Street where the road dead-ends at Northeast 148th Avenue.

David Greene, 28, said he watched from his parents’ window as the truck barreled down the road heading straight for his house and then took a broad left turn, crashing into his next-door neighbor’s tree. The two men in the truck scrambled out and took off in different directions, Greene said.

Greene said he and a few other bystanders chased one of the men east through Diamond Park, yelling for bystanders to flee. Once they reached the other side of the park, Greene said, the suspect assaulted a man and stole his car.

“About four of us were trying to kick him and punch him and get him out,” he said of the suspect. “But he was able to get the car in reverse and pull out. … We at least slowed him enough to get eventually caught by the police.”

Greene said he lost his shoe in the car and walked away with cuts on his arms and legs.

Police caught one suspect within minutes of the shooting, McElvain said, but the second wasn’t immediately located. Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency launched an emergency community notification system 15 minutes after the shooting was reported, notifying residents within a half-mile radius of the scene to stay in their homes.

Law enforcement officers from around the county assisted with the manhunt, setting up a perimeter around the area. They searched for the second suspect by going house to house and taking police dogs through residential yards.

By about 1:30 p.m., police had caught the second suspect in the 14100 block of 36th Street. Police would not confirm on Monday exactly where the suspects were detained.

Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said that with several different scenes of police activity and detectives conducting interviews throughout the day, the details still were not clear.

“As the investigation unfolds, we’ll learn about what actually happened as opposed to speculation,” Kapp said early Monday evening. The Regional Major Crimes Unit is investigating the incident.

As of Monday night, police said the suspects had been detained for questioning, but police did not release the suspects’ names or say whether they had been arrested.

The name of the officer hurt in the shooting was not released.

“This is one of the worst nightmares a chief can go through,” McElvain said.

Separate crash

As police responded to the scene of the shooting, a Vancouver police officer driving a patrol car was involved in a crash with a Volkswagen Passat, according to Washington State Patrol Sgt. Ryan Tanner.

The crash, reported at 11:40 a.m., occurred on eastbound state Highway 500 at Northeast Stapleton Road. The officer was preparing to clear the intersection when the two cars collided, Tanner said.

The civilian driver was taken to an area hospital by ambulance, and the police officer transported himself to the hospital. Both suffered minor injuries.

Columbian staff writers Patty Hastings, Justin Runquist and Sue Vorenberg contributed to this story.