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News / Clark County News

Off-duty Vancouver police officer killed during manhunt

Circumstances unclear, but Clark County sheriff’s deputy fired a shot

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian Managing Editor for Content
Published: January 30, 2022, 1:00pm

Officer Donald Sahota, 52, was killed while off duty at his home Saturday night in a rural area near Battle Ground, according to the Vancouver Police Department.

Authorities have not released details about the circumstances of his death. However, Clark County Sheriff’s deputies chased an armed robber suspect from Orchards to a Battle Ground area home, which lies at the end of a long private drive in a rural area. A news release issued just before 2 a.m. Sunday by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy had shot and killed someone at the scene, but the news release omitted details about who was killed.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Vancouver police issued a news release stating Sahota was killed at his home while off duty. It did not specify that he was shot, or by whom.

Public records indicate Sahota and his family live at the address where the shooting occurred.

Officers killed in the line of duty

Nine local law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty since 1922, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Columbian archives.

Over the past decade, 1,763 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty — an average of 176 per year. There were 306 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2020 across the U.S., statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show.

July 23, 2021: Detective Jeremy Brown, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Brown was shot in his vehicle while conducting surveillance at an east Vancouver apartment complex. The shooting investigation is ongoing.

July 30, 2004: Sgt. Brad Crawford, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Crawford was killed when his unmarked patrol car was intentionally rammed by a pickup whose driver was fleeing a domestic disturbance at his home.

March 2, 1987: Trooper James S. Gain, Washington State Patrol. Gain died just after he had stopped a motorist for speeding on Interstate 5 near Salmon Creek. He was standing on the shoulder when a truck hit him.

Nov. 18, 1976: Deputy Martin Sowders, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Sowders was accidentally shot and killed by another deputy during a shootout with a suspect wanted for robbing a pharmacy.

Dec. 21, 1951: Trooper Don R. Campbell Jr., Washington State Patrol. Campbell was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic.

Sept. 29, 1932: Special Agent Ballard W. Turner, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Turner was shot while raiding a still in Vancouver.

Oct. 15, 1932: Special Agent Ernest B. Vlasich, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Vlasich was shot by a suspect in Vancouver while attempting an arrest.

May 22, 1927: Clark County Sheriff Lester Wood. The newly elected sheriff and some of his deputies were searching for a still near Yacolt when Wood was confronted by a gunman. He rounded a bend and was shot and killed.

Aug. 7, 1922: Deputy Wilfred E. Rorison, Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Rorison was killed during a raid on a moonshine still when he and two prohibition agents were met by gunfire.

No more information was released on Sunday, including whether the robbery suspect was in custody. The Cowlitz County-based Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team is investigating.

Here’s what is known so far:

At 8:14 p.m., sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Chevron gas station and convenience store at 9810 N.E. 117th Ave. after a reported robbery had just occurred. According to the sheriff’s news release, the robber was described as having a handgun and fled the area in a stolen vehicle.

Deputies spotted the stolen vehicle and pursued it toward Battle Ground. Eventually, the robbery suspect bailed out of the vehicle and ran to a house, where he contacted the homeowner. “Police responded and contacted all parties.  In the course of this contact a deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office discharged his firearm,” according to the news release.

Dispatch records show that emergency responders were called to the Sahota residence at 9 p.m. to treat a gunshot wound. The sheriff’s office news release stated, “The individual who was struck was provided medical aid at the scene but was eventually pronounced deceased.”

Sahota is survived by his wife and two children. The Vancouver Police Department hired Sahota in April 2014. He worked in patrol, served as an emergency vehicle operations instructor and an armorer, and was most recently assigned to the training unit, according to the Vancouver release.  Prior to that, he worked as a police officer for the Gresham Police Department and Port of Portland Police Department.

“My heart goes out to Officer Sahota’s family and friends and those of us in his VPD family as well. His death is a tragic loss, and he will be deeply missed by many,” Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said.

Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said “I am heartbroken by the loss of Officer Donald Sahota. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and all those he served with.

“The sudden death of Officer Sahota is devastating, and we don’t have all the details of what occurred. This will be investigated by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team. It will likely be days before we know more.

“I hope the community will join me as we hold Officer Sahota’s family and our law enforcement community in our thoughts and hearts. To honor Officer Sahota, all flags at City of Vancouver facilities will be lowered to half-staff.”