At approximately 9:30 pm, officers from the Vernonia Police Department, Scappoose Police Department, St. Helens Police Department, Oregon State Police, Rainier Police Department, and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 900 block of Riverside Drive in Vernonia/Columbia County, Oregon regarding a report that a man had been shot.
According to Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner, upon arrival, officers encountered an adult male with life threatening injuries. The male was transported by ambulance to a Portland area hospital. When the man arrived at the hospital, he had succumbed to his injuries.
the victim has been identified as Jesse E. Depue of Vernonia
Police have arrested Kirk Avila, 51, of Vernonia, in connection with the shooting and is currently being held in the Columbia County Jail on murder charges.
At this time the Vernonia Police Department does not believe that a threat to public safety exists.
Representatives of multiple law enforcement agencies in Columbia County are searching for an individual who shot a Rainier police officer this afternoon.
The shooting occurred around 12:30 p.m. near the intersection of Highway 30 and Veterans Way.
According to Columbia River Fire and Rescue Chief Jay Tappan, who was stationed in Rainier and fielding media inquiries, the incident was initially reported as a red car driving moving erratically through Scappoose. The Rainier Police officer and a reserve were in a Rainier police car headed toward this call when they pulled the vehicle over. It was then that the incident escalated.
“There was a shooting. The officer was hit in the hand and the suspect fled west,” Tappan said. He said that the officer and reserve officer, neither of whom have been identified, were able to drive across the bridge to St. Johns Medical Center for treatment.
The small town department includes Chief Gregg Griffith, five employed staff and four reserve officers, as well as one clerical employee.
Second officer-involved shooting in four years
This is the second officer-involved shooting that the Rainier Police Department has been involved in, in less than four years. On January 5, 2011, Chief Ralph Painter was responding to a call at a local car audio shop. Painter struggled with a suspect and was shot with his own service weapon. The suspect in that case, Daniel Armaugh Butts, is in custody awaiting trial. Officer Gregg Griffith assumed the duties of chief at that time.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.