11/13/2005

Ore. police shoot man who rammed car into courthouse

By BRAD CAIN
Associated Press Writer

SALEM, Oregon- Police shot a man after he crashed a truck into a downtown courthouse early Saturday, ending a pursuit that began when he allegedly set fire to several squad cars in a nearby town and shot at an officer who chased him.

The man drove the pickup through the glass double doors of the Marion County Courthouse and hid inside the building for about three hours, setting at least one fire before police tracked him down in a stairwell, police Capt. Jeff Kuhns said.

He was in surgery Saturday afternoon, officials said. His condition and the extent of his injuries were not immediately released.

Authorities identified the man as Christopher Lee Millis, 37, of nearby Keizer, Oregon.

"We have a few indications of what might have motivated him," said Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau. He declined to elaborate.

The pursuit started shortly before dawn when a man was spotted pouring a liquid on cars parked at the police department in Keizer and setting them on fire, authorities said.

An officer chased him in her car, but the suspect fired at her, police said. The officer crashed but wasn't injured.

Shortly afterward, police got calls that someone in the area was firing shots at homes. Then, around 6:30 a.m., Salem Police got a call that someone had driven up the concrete steps of the courthouse and crashed through the doors.

Officers from several police departments surrounded the building and attempted to negotiate with the man. They eventually confronted him in the stairwell and shot him.

Millis had set at least one fire inside the courthouse and fired a weapon, Kuhns said. Kuhns said it was unclear whether he was firing at officers outside. A bomb squad was called in as a precaution after Millis was subdued, and police searched the five-story courthouse for possible explosives but didn't immediately find any.

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