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Robbery suspect fatally shot by Vancouver police had a note, wig, pipe bomb

Final report details fatal shooting at Heights Shopping Center

By , Columbian staff reporter
Published:

Investigators said they found a handwritten robbery note, a wig and a pipe bomb in the vehicle Joshua Wilson was driving shortly before he was fatally shot by police May 30.

The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team said Thursday it had finished its investigation into the shooting and submitted its report to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review.

Investigators interviewed witnesses and obtained multiple videos of the shooting, including store surveillance video and officer body-worn camera footage, according to Thursday’s update. The agency previously released a video summary of the incident.

In Thursday’s statement, investigators said they determined Wilson’s 9 mm pistol had five rounds in the magazine, but it did not have a round chambered. The gun was registered to someone else, out of state, the statement says.

Editor's note: This video contains graphic content from security cameras and police body-worm cameras. It may be disturbing to some readers. Video summary from the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team investigation of the fatal police shooting at the Heights Shopping Center in on Mill Plain Boulevard in central Vancouver on May 30. Video

Vancouver police previously said Wilson fired at officers as he ran through a shopping center parking lot in the 6700 block of East Mill Plain Boulevard. The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team has not confirmed whether Wilson fired.

Investigators noted video of the shooting appears to show Wilson point the pistol at Vancouver police Officer Brandon Riedel, with his finger in the trigger well, before officers began shooting.

Riedel, along with Vancouver police Detectives Colton Price and Aaron Yoder and Clark County sheriff’s Detective Zach Nielsen, fired at Wilson. In interviews with investigators, they said they believed Wilson posed an imminent deadly threat, according to the update.

The officers and deputy shot at Wilson 20 times, and investigators estimated Wilson was struck six times.

Wilson had arrest warrants, investigators say, and was identified as a suspect in a May 20 burglary at Allen’s Crosley Lanes, 2400 E. Evergreen Blvd., and May 21 and 29 armed robberies at convenience stores at 6510 E. Mill Plain Blvd., and 1901 Kauffman Ave., respectively.

In one of the convenience store robberies, Wilson wore a blond wig, according to court records.

Upon a search of Wilson’s belongings and the car he was driving, investigators said they found two handwritten robbery notes, along with burglary tools. The Portland Metro Bomb Squad responded to disable a pipe bomb also found in the car, the update states.

Shooting narrative

On the morning of the shooting, Vancouver Neighborhood Response Team detectives, including Price and Yoder, attended a briefing. The detectives received information about Wilson, including the alleged crimes he was wanted for, his physical description and a description of his vehicle. They were told Wilson was considered armed and dangerous, and he had made statements about having a shootout with police rather than going to prison, according to the video update.

After the briefing, detectives searched for Wilson for hours but couldn’t find him, investigators said.

At 5:28 p.m., Yoder saw the 2005 Mercedes C3 Kompressor sedan associated with Wilson on Northeast Andresen Road at Fourth Plain Boulevard. He said he believed the driver was Wilson and alerted other officers over the radio. Yoder followed the Mercedes until it entered a parking lot in front of the Safeway supermarket, 6701 E. Mill Plain Blvd., the video update states.

Wilson then went inside Safeway, and officers began setting up an arrest team and containment. Detectives also requested more resources, including a K-9 and air unit, investigators said.

The arrest team, including Yoder, Price and Nielsen, along with Harris, sat in an unmarked minivan just north of Wilson’s Mercedes. Riedel arrived and parked his patrol vehicle in the northwest corner of the parking lot to act as containment, according to the video update.

At 5:47 p.m., Wilson exited the Safeway with a bag of groceries. When he noticed the detectives, he could be seen on store surveillance footage dropping his bag and running to the northwest, toward Riedel.

A few seconds after Wilson started running, Harris could be heard shouting over the radio, “He’s got something in his hands! He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!” according to the video update.

Riedel had moved his patrol car to cut off Wilson’s path. Wilson could be seen pointing a gun at Riedel before gunfire erupts.

Investigators estimated 1 minute and 55 seconds elapsed from when the first shot was fired to when officers began medically evaluating Wilson, the video update states. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene.

No officers or members of the public were injured.

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