The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference on Thursday May 9, 2013 and released prepared statements and photographs concerning the officer involved shooting that occurred on Friday May 3rd. The incident involved Oregon State Police Troopers and ended in the fatality of the suspect. Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said the investigation is ongoing but that substantial facts had been developed to merit a new release. The information released for the first time included the nature of the original stop (speeding 78 mph in a 55 zone on Hwy 30), the pursuit speeds (over 100 mph) and the type of gun recovered from the male suspect. Oregon State Police originally identified the suspect as a female.
Sheriff Dickerson’s prepared statement:
“Anytime law enforcement uses deadly force in the course of its duties, the people have a right to know as soon as possible what happened in general to bring us to the point where we are today–where one of our citizens is dead after a confrontation with law enforcement officers in our county.
“And while it is important to get the information out as quickly as possible, It is also important to give investigators and the District Attorney the time they need to put together a clear, accurate picture of what occurred so that we can describe what happened without jeopardizing the evidence in the case that could result from such an investigation.
“I am glad to say that today we have enough understanding of what occurred last Friday night to give a more detailed account of what occurred. I must stress that this investigation is not complete, yet, and we continue to follow the protocols in the Columbia County Deadly Physical Force Plan. District Attorney Steve Atchison has the sole responsibility for determining what action, if any, will be forthcoming once this investigation is completed.
“As far as advising today the information we will be able to release, I have asked Undersheriff Andy Moyer, who was the incident commander at the scene where this event culminated, to relay to you the facts as we know them thus far.”
Undersheriff Moyer’s prepared statement:
“The following information is based on evidence collected, witness interviews, officer interviews, and dispatch records. The investigation is not complete, but the information that is being released are factual events.
“At approximately 6:38 pm Trooper Oxenrider observed a black sedan vehicle traveling northbound on Highway 30 at a high rate of speed. This was in the area of Highway 30 at Wikstrom Rd. He checked the vehicle on moving radar at 78 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. This area is a state safety corridor. Trooper Oxenrider, who was driving southbound, conducted a U-turn in an attempt to catch up with the vehicle to conduct a traffic stop.
“Trooper Oxenrider notified his dispatch that he was in pursuit of the black sedan. The suspect vehicle continued to drive at speeds in excess of 100 mph on Highway 30. Trooper Oxenrider had his emergency lights and siren activated.
“The suspect vehicle turned left onto Millard road from Highway 30.
“Trooper May caught up with the vehicle pursuit on Bennett Rd. and was directly behind Trooper Oxenrider. Trooper May also had her lights and siren activated.
“Trooper Oxenrider attempted a ‘Tactical Vehicle Intervention’ or TVI technique in an attempt to bring the pursuit to an end. In some Law Enforcement agencies this is called a ‘Pursuit Intervention Technique’ or ‘PIT.’
“The TVI did, in fact, end the pursuit.
“The suspect vehicle ended up with its front end into a ditch on the west side of Hazen Rd.– just past the Stone Rd. intersection. The rear of the suspect vehicle was up at an angle, making the inside of the suspect vehicle not visible to either Trooper. Trooper Oxenrider stopped his vehicle with his front end at the right front door of the suspect vehicle. Trooper May stopped her vehicle to the right of Trooper Oxenrider’s vehicle.
“Trooper Oxenrider exited his patrol vehicle and moved around the rear end of the suspect vehicle to the driver’s side. Trooper Oxenrider gave repeated verbal commands to the suspect to the effect of “Show me your hands”. This verbal command has been confirmed by the audio portion of his in-car video system.
“The suspect produced a firearm. The firearm– which was recovered Friday night at the scene- -is a black, Ruger, .22-caliber, semi-automatic pistol. Later examination by detectives revealed that the firearm was loaded with a round in the chamber and had additional rounds in the magazine.
“After seeing the firearm, Trooper Oxenrider fired his .40-caliber S&W service weapon at the suspect. It was later determined that Trooper Oxenrider fired a total of nine rounds.
“At 6:44 pm Trooper May announced on her radio that shots had been fired. Trooper May did not fire any shots during the incident.
“Trooper Oxenrider then gave additional verbal commands to the suspect. These commands were confirmed by his in-car video system, as well as by citizen witnesses near the scene.
The Troopers then secured the suspect’s firearm. This action was confirmed by a citizen witness.
“The Troopers and two arriving St. Helens police officers attempted first aid on the suspect, directed paramedics directly to the scene, and requested that life flight be activated. When paramedics arrived they advised officers that the suspect was deceased.
“A St. Helens Police sergeant secured the crime scene, requested activation of the major crimes team, and requested notification to the District Attorney immediately.
“What happened next was a multi-agency, multi officer investigation that, to this hour, is not fully complete. Following protocol from the Columbia County Deadly Physical Force Plan, the major crimes team was utilized for this investigation. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office assigned a lead detective, but detectives and officers from several agencies assisted, to include: the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office; St. Helens Police Department; Scappoose Police Department; the Oregon State Police – Portland Area Command; and, the Vernonia Police Department. In addition to these officers the Oregon State Police supplied a scene Reconstructionist and a team from the Oregon State Crime Lab. Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison also responded to the scene Friday night. Other on scene assistance was provided by the Columbia County Road Department and the Columbia River Fire and Rescue. Columbia County 911 and State Police dispatch centers also played a vital role in the initial incident as it took place as well as during the investigative process.
“The suspect, as previously released, has been identified as Josiah M. Fischer, age 27, from St. Helens. Mr. Fischer is a convicted Felon. Mr. Fischer’s felony conviction comes from a 2008 conviction for Theft in the First Degree.”
The troopers have been identified by the Oregon State Police as Trooper Justin Oxenrider, 32 (six years of service); and Senior Trooper Robin May, 40 (16 years of service). Both troopers are assigned to the St. Helens office of the State Police.