PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The officer-involved death of Michael Veatch was “overwhelmingly justified” because he “was actively trying to kill innocent civilians” along Highway 30 near St. Helens.
So said Columbia County District Attorney Jeffrey David Auxier in a report released Tuesday. Veatch was killed by a St. Helens police officer who hit him with his patrol car following a shooting at a St. Helens Chevron station, a chase and more shooting along Highway 30 on October 9.
Read the full report from the Columbia County DA at the bottom of this article
The shooting at the Chevron station happened at 5:26 a.m. Veatch pointed a handgun at the chest of a convenience store employee then, moments later, fired 6-8 shots that shattered glass. Veatch got into his truck and drove off on a blown tire.
As Veatch drove away, witnesses reported shots fired near McBride Elementary School. Another witness said Veatch stopped his truck in the middle of the road, got out of his truck and fired 7-10 rounds from an AK-47. Investigators confirmed these details, the DA said.
As police chased Veatch, they saw him “handling a box of ammunition as if reloading his firearm.” Near Deer Island, Veatch’s truck was spewing smoke. He got out and ran along the highway.
Veatch then tried to carjack 2 vehicles. When he approached the first one, a white work van, the driver sped off. But Veatch fired twice, hitting the dashboard and front passenger seat. Veatch then tried to take a second vehicle, but again the driver sped off. Veatch again fired a shot, hitting the center console before coming to rest on the driver’s floorboard.
The report states: “At 5:43:51, (Officer) Merkwan reported that the subject was continuing to shoot at vehicles…(and) believed the subject was ‘going down the line of stopped traffic and he was shooting people.’ 9 seconds later, Merkwan responded over the radio that he intentionally struck the subject with his vehicle and that an ambulance was ‘needed ASAP.'”
Authorities said they found a number of weapons inside Veatch’s truck, including an AK-47, two 12-gauge pump action shotguns, a rifle butt, rifle accessories and a lot of ammunition.
At the time of this incident, Veatch was suspected of a drive-by shooting in Beaverton on September 6 that hurt one person and killed a dog. And he was also suspected of breaking into his former employer’s truck around September 25 and stealing a 9mm handgun, similar to the one found near his body.
The medical examiner noted Veatch had tattoos that read “White Power,” “Aryan Nationalist Pride,” “White Pride” and had swastikas on both knees.
The DA concluded Officer Merkwan “very likely saved lives” by hitting Veatch with his patrol car, and then tried to save Veatch after he was hit.
“Merkwan’s split-second decision to strike Veatch with his vehicle was commendable and almost certainly save the lives of innocent civilians.”
Veatch’s girlfriend was recently indicted for harboring Butts during the manhunt for him.
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