Published January 05, 2011
The police chief of the town of Rainier in northwest Oregon was fatally shot Wednesday during a struggle with a suspect at a car audio shop, authorities said
The suspect was later wounded in a shootout with other officers, the Columbia County sheriff's office said.
Rainier Mayor Jerry Cole said the town has a five-officer police force.
The officer went to the Rainier Sound Authority shop about 10:45 a.m. on a disturbance call, "got into a struggle with a suspect and was killed by gunshot," the sheriff's office said.
Witnesses said other officers arrived quickly, eventually numbering as many as 30. Officers from nearby towns, the State Police and sheriff's department joined in.
Liquor store owner Traci Brumbles saw some police move toward the car audio shop.
"They were kind of pushed up against the wall," she said. "They'd sneak a little further and stop."
Then, the police ordered a man to drop a weapon and fired multiple shots into the Sound Authority building, said John Harper, who is opening a tobacco store.
"The cops just unleashed on him," he told the Longview Daily News.
The Rev. Jeff McCracken of the Rainier Assembly of God church described 20 to 30 police cars converging on a U-shaped strip mall area next to the church building and a man "kinda wandering around" a late 1960s Chevelle.
"They started yelling at him to drop the weapon, which we hadn't seen because he was on the far side of the vehicle," McCracken told AP Radio in a phone interview. He said he told people in the church to get down.
"A round came through the window that I was looking through, about six inches above my head where I'd just been standing," McCracken said. "There's gunfire going off from the police officers, as well, so we just got out of there as quickly as we could."
Brumbles said she was at least 30 feet away but forgot to duck.
"You see them creeping, and you know they're going to shoot somebody," she said. "Oh my God, I just witnessed people shooting, and you can't believe it happened."
Rainier is on the Columbia River, a town of about 1,800 directly south of the city of Longview, Wash.
"It's just a sad day for Rainier," said Cole, the mayor.