By Kasia Hall
RAINIER, Ore. — The suspect believed to have shot a Rainier police officer in the chest and hand Monday afternoon along Highway 30 has been found dead, Oregon State Police said.
A Rainier officer and a reserve officer pulled over a red car near Veterans Way after the driver was reported to be operating the vehicle aggressively and erratically from Scappoose, said Columbia River Fire and Rescue Chief Jay Tappan.
The driver reportedly shot at Officer Russ George, who Tappan said put his hand up to block a bullet, but it went through his hand and hit his chest.
George was wearing a bulletproof vest, and Oregon State Police spokesman Lieutenant Gregg Hastings said he was in serious condition but his injuries weren't considered life-threatening.
Authorities haven't identified the reserve officer.
About 12:30 p.m., a call of "shots fired" and "officer down" was broadcast, and the suspect had fled the scene westbound on U.S. 30 in a red, four-door Kia with Washington license plate AMN5227.
Alex Altenheim said he saw the incident happen while he was doing yard work at a nearby home.
"I heard shots, and I looked up and saw an officer getting shot at and returning some fire," he said. "I ducked down and looked back up and saw the cop car go down the highway."
Police did not say how many shots were fired.
Tappan said police had reported George and his partner initially chased the suspect, but George was bleeding too profusely so they drove to a Longview hospital. Then, just after 2 p.m., George was taken by ambulance to Portland's Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where he was recovering Monday night.
Authorities found the suspect dead about 5 p.m. near Clatskanie. The man, who has not been identified, was found near his vehicle, which had stopped near Hermo Road and Collings Road, south of Port Westward.
Officers had heard a single gunshot about two hours before, Tappan said.
The shooting comes nearly three and a half years after Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter was fatally shot.
Clair Groulx, a local funeral director who helped arrange the Painter funeral, said he heard shots Monday afternoon and ran out of his home but didn't see the shooting. He was upset to hear George had been hit.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"He would drop by our home to check in on us," he said. "He would come day or night."
Copyright 2014 The Oregonian