Portland police: Man shot by officer sought in kidnapping

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Updated: March 13, 2014, 6:16 PM

 

PORTLAND — A man fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire with Portland police has been identified as the prime suspect in the January kidnapping of a woman who escaped her attacker by jumping from a moving vehicle, authorities said.

Kelly Vern Swoboda, 49, died Wednesday afternoon during a confrontation with an officer who responded to a report of a suspicious van near Wilson High School in southwest Portland.

A Portland Police Bureau spokesman identified the officer as John Romero, the school resource officer at Wilson High. He took a bullet to the hand and was resting at home Thursday, police said.

Investigators in nearby Clackamas County had been looking for Swoboda since he was identified via surveillance video as the suspect in a kidnapping in the Portland suburb of Milwaukie.

Sheriff’s deputies responded Jan. 27 to what was reported as a pedestrian hit by a car. It turned out to be a woman who escaped from a moving vehicle.

The woman had been working alone at a tanning salon when a man beat her, applied duct tape and then forced her outside to a purple minivan. The woman suffered serious injuries in the attack and the ensuing escape.

Robbery convictions

Swoboda was convicted of bank robbery in 1994 and 2006, and he was sentenced to nearly six years in prison after the second conviction, according to court records. On Tuesday, a federal indictment charged him in the robberies of three Portland-area banks in late 2013. He was also suspected of robbing a Eugene bank in February.

He died shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday after Romero and two other officers responded to a 911 call regarding a suspicious green van.

According to police, Officer Edgar Mitchell saw the van, but the man behind the wheel did not match the description of the suspicious driver. The man told Mitchell he was visiting a nearby library.

After the man walked toward the library, Mitchell noticed that the front and back license plates on the van did not match, and the front plate included numbers associated with the vehicle police were looking for.

As Mitchell and another officer went to the library, Romero saw the driver walking down a street.

Witnesses told investigators that the man ignored Romero’s commands to stop. The two then traded gunfire.

Swoboda died at the scene.