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Sunday,  July 14 , 2024

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News / Northwest

Video shows frantic I-5 chase, Oregon shootout with West Richland killer. See the footage

By Cameron Probert, Tri-City Herald
Published: June 14, 2024, 8:12am

KENNEWICK — Newly released video shows the frantic high-speed chase on Interstate 5 in April that ended the hunt for a Tri-Cities double murder and kidnap suspect.

Oregon State Police released video and reports this week from the 20-minute chase reaching speeds up to 110 mph and gunfire exchange with Elias Huizar, 39, a former Yakima police and school resource officer.

The agency posted on social media an edited version of their body-cam and dash camera footage from April 23.

The Tri-City Herald also received about five hours of unedited video and about 85 pages of reports under Oregon’s public records law.

Huizar, who had worked as a substitute teacher in Richland, was wanted for stabbing to death his girlfriend, Angelica Santos, inside of his West Richland home, and gunning down his ex-wife, Amber Rodriguez, outside a West Richland elementary school.

He fled the April 22 shooting in his brother’s silver Toyota Corolla and hours later authorities issued an Amber Alert when they realized he’d kidnapped his 1-year-old son, Roman Santos.

Witnesses reported seeing him in the Portland, Ore., area that night. Investigators picked up his trail when he stopped at a Portland bank to withdraw money from his account, according to the documents.

Video from the bank’s security camera showed the Corolla had Oregon license plates that had been stolen from a 2015 Mazda.

Interstate 5 pursuit

Oregon State Police Sgt. Nickodemus “Orly” Johnson and Senior Trooper Scott Show were parked in the median of Interstate 5 about 10 miles outside Albany when the Corolla passed them heading south about 2:40 p.m. on April 23, according to reports.

They soon caught up with the car and signaled for it to stop, but Huizar kept driving. He reached speeds of 100 to 110 mph trying to flee from the troopers.

Along the way, the top cop from the Oregon State Police, Superintendent Casey Codding, joined the chase, as well.

As Huizar slowed near the exit for Harrisburg and Junction City, troopers tried for force him to stop by bumping his car in an attempt to get him to lose control. The first bump — technically called a PIT maneuver — forced him off the road.

Dash camera video shows the car kick up a cloud of dust as troopers drive closer in hopes of cornering the car. But Huizar was able to pull away.

Johnson taps Huizar’s car a second time. Video shows the Corolla stop in the middle of the interstate and this time when officers close in, Huizar starts shooting at Johnson.

Codding and Johnson return fire. It’s not clear how many shots they took, but neither Huizar, the troopers nor the toddler were hit. One bullet struck Johnson’s car.

Chase and crash

Huizar fled again. This time reaching speeds of about 100 mph.

About two miles outside of Eugene, a large traffic jam had formed on the divided highway after an unrelated crash.

Because of the blocked lanes, Huizar drove onto the left shoulder of I-5 and into the median in an attempt to escape.

He didn’t get far before clipping the trailer of a stopped semi tanker truck, forcing him to stop.

Troopers hear a shot and a truck driver later tells investigators that he saw Huizar shoot himself once in the head after he’d stopped.

Video shows the troopers gathering behind a protective shield as they approach the car. Once they reached it, Huizar was dead, but his son was unhurt in a car seat in the back seat.

While the crash happened in Lane County, the investigation of the death was handled by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office where the chase started.

The information was provided to Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny, who determined that the shots fired by the troopers were justified.

Marteeny noted that Huizar fired at an officer and also drove in a manner that put other drivers and his passenger in danger.

“He presented an imminent and immediate threat to life,” Marteeny wrote. “The actions of Sgt. Johnson, Supt. Codding, Sr. Trooper Show and others exhibited very high levels of skill, professionalism and bravery.”

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