An armed robbery suspect allegedly stabbed an off-duty Vancouver police officer at least three times Saturday night outside the officer’s home near Battle Ground, as the two scuffled over a knife and pistol, before an arriving Clark County deputy mistakenly shot and killed the officer.
The suspect, identified as Julio Cesar Segura, 20, of Yakima appeared Monday morning in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, third-degree assault, possession of a stolen vehicle and attempt to elude.
Judge John Fairgrieve set Segura’s bail at $5 million. In ordering bail, Fairgrieve said it was “hard to think of a more dangerous series of acts.”
The slain Vancouver officer was identified Sunday as 52-year-old Donald Sahota. Authorities have not publicly identified the deputy who shot him.
The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, which is investigating the shooting, released its initial findings in a statement late Sunday evening. The statement detailed the series of events that began with the alleged armed robbery at an Orchards gas station and ended with the shooting at Sahota’s home.
Deputies had been dispatched at 8:14 p.m. to a reported robbery at a Chevron gas station and convenience store at 9810 N.E. 117th Ave. A 911 caller told authorities a man robbed the station at gunpoint before fleeing with several hundred dollars, investigators said.
The suspect vehicle was described as a silver Mercedes sedan with no license plates. The robbery suspect was described as a white male with a dark complexion, wearing a white long-sleeve shirt, black undershirt, and a white-with-black flat-billed baseball cap. It was believed he showed a Glock handgun in the robbery, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Twelve minutes later, police intercepted the Mercedes, which they determined to be stolen, traveling northbound on Interstate 205. The driver failed to stop and eluded pursuing officers for several miles onto northbound Interstate 5, before taking the exit toward Battle Ground, according to the investigators’ initial findings.
Deputy James Lawrence got north of the pursuit after it left the freeway and positioned himself near the 7800 block of Northeast 239th Street, court records say. Officers assisting in the pursuit used spike strips to stop the car, and the driver jumped out and ran away, according to investigators.
A law enforcement drone and a Portland police airplane spotted someone walking on Northeast 84th Avenue, north of the area the robbery suspect was last seen, according to the affidavit.
As officers worked to contain the area, at 8:56 p.m. a woman called 911 to report that a stranger had pounded on her family’s front door saying he crashed his car nearby and needed help. The man, later identified as Segura, matched the description of the robbery suspect, investigators said.
The woman told dispatch that her husband, Sahota, was an off-duty police officer and was holding Segura at gunpoint, according to the affidavit.
Officers with aerial views of the residence said the homeowner and suspect were fighting. As Lawrence pulled up to the scene and got out of his patrol vehicle, he heard two gunshots, the affidavit states.
Video from the drone and Portland police airplane captured Sahota struggling with Segura in his driveway. A pistol is seen falling to the ground, and Segura then runs toward Sahota’s residence. Sahota then stands up, grabs the pistol and chases Segura, according to the affidavit.
This was occurring as a deputy and at least two additional law enforcement officers arrived on the scene, according to investigators.
“Within seconds of responding law enforcement officers arriving on scene, one Clark County deputy sheriff fired several rounds from a rifle striking the off-duty officer,” the investigators’ statement said. “The off-duty officer/homeowner collapsed on his front porch before responding officers were able to determine he was the homeowner and not the alleged robbery suspect.”
Segura subsequently stuck his hands out the front door and surrendered, court records say.
Segura told a Kelso police detective that he stabbed Sahota at least three times in the torso as they struggled. He said he knew Sahota was a police officer because Sahota had identified himself. Segura said he believed he killed Sahota and fled to the officer’s residence, still armed with a knife, as he heard sirens approaching, according to the affidavit. Segura said he stabbed the knife into a couch cushion at the Sahotas’ home.
Sahota’s wife had tried to lock Segura out of the house, she said, but he forced his way inside. The door struck her in the head as he did so, and she suffered a contusion to her forehead and was taken to a local hospital, court records state.
Segura told investigators he had waited outside the convenience store for an opportune time to rob it. He pointed an Airsoft BB pistol at the clerk, he said, and demanded cash, according to court records.
He told investigators he had stolen the Mercedes from a dealership in Yakima and intended to flee to Seattle. He also said he believed the Airsoft BB pistol fell from his pocket as he ran from the crash scene, according to the affidavit.
The cause of Sahota’s death was not released pending the outcome of an autopsy, investigators said.
Segura is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 11.