Trooper Shot While Processing Vehicle to Be Towed

A Washington State Patrol trooper was shot in the head early Saturday while taking inventory of a vehicle about to be towed but is expected to survive.

Trooper Scott Johnson was shot shortly before 1 a.m. along State Route 103, the patrol said. A man walked up and had a short exchange with Johnson and the tow truck driver, then pulled out a handgun and shot Johnson twice, including once to the head, the agency said.

Johnson returned fire but it wasn't known if the man was hit. Authorities didn't release any other details in their search for the suspected shooter.

Johnson was taken to a hospital in Long Beach, then to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland. He was alert and conscious but is in considerable pain, Trooper Krista Hedstrom said late Saturday morning. Doctors believe his injuries are not life threatening, she said.

The driver of the vehicle being towed had been arrested for driving while impaired and was taken to a nearby police station. Authorities said they had no evidence the DUI arrest and the shooting are related.

"I am troubled that we've had yet another police officer attacked while performing what should be a routine task," State Patrol Chief John Batiste told KING-TV. "I'm exceptionally thankful that our trooper is doing well, and very grateful for the assistance we've received from the Pacific County Sheriff's Office and several nearby agencies."

Gov. Chris Gregoire said the shooting was another reminder of why Washington state needs to strengthen the protection of its law enforcement officers.

"Trooper Johnson and all of our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve us. They are true heroes," Gregoire said in a statement. "I stand with the entire law enforcement community during this difficult time."