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Ore. officer expected to recover after shooting

Sgt. John Mikkola, who once saved a police chief's life, was shot by a burglary suspect

By PoliceOne Staff

WOODBURN, Ore. — A Woodburn police sergeant is in fair condition this morning two days after being shot multiple times by a burglary suspect, according to local reports.

The Oregonian states that Sgt. John Mikkola, a 49-year-old veteran officer, was one of six officers searching for the burglary suspect in Salem when he was shot.

The suspect, Billy Jack Gray, was wanted for violating his parole on a drug conviction and was also suspected of stealing two handguns. While officers surrounded Gray's apartment complex, he came barreling down the stairs shooting. Gray hit Mikkola multiple times, but despite his wounds, the officer returned fire.

Police reported that Deputy Ron Cereghino, of the Marion County Sheriff's Office, spotted the suspect running toward a strip mall nearby. Cereghino, an 11-year-veteran of the force, shot Gray and ended the pursuit.

Mikkola was alert and conscious soon after the shooting. The suspect is still in critical condition.

"We are very relieved to hear that [Mikkola] survived," said Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers in an interview with The Oregonian staff. "He responded to this dangerous situation according to his training and within our policy and the laws governing the use of deadly force."

"We do the job knowing the dangers and that we may not come home that night," Hastings said. "This was a tough situation ... a near fatal encounter -- there is a lot of relief that John was not killed."

According to KGW News, the Woodburn community is rallying together to honor Mikkola, who is credited with saving the Woodburn police chief's life after a bank bombing 15 months ago.

Fellow sergeant Jason Tlusty said, "I was going to visit him but there has been so many well-wishers that the hospital had to restrict the number of visitors so he could get some rest. We're all looking forward to John's return."

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