ST. HELENS, Ore. (KOIN) — A shooting at a St. Helens Chevron station early Wednesday morning sparked a police chase that ended in the use of deadly force by officers on Highway 30.
The St. Helens Police Department confirmed the use of deadly force by officers 12 hours after the shooting was first reported. Police said the suspect died at the scene.
Witnesses told KOIN 6 News the incident began at the Chevron on N. Columbia River Highway. Customer Christopher Justis told KOIN 6 News he saw a man with a gun.
“I saw a man holding a gun to an employee,” he said. “I didn’t hear what they were talking about and so as he was leaving for his car, we were going to call police — but as he drove away and we were trying to get his license plate — he started firing at the store and everyone got down.”
Justis said he “heard the glass shattering.”
Chevron employees locked the doors and called 911. Justis said they heard four gunshots, which shattered the windows of the food market.
Employees told KOIN 6 News no customers or employees were hurt.
As the suspected shooter sped away, dispatch audio revealed neighbors were calling to report more gunshots.
Angela Laird and her family awoke to the sound of rapid gunfire outside of their home at Columbia and Cherrywood in St. Helens.
“It just sounded like ‘pow pow pow pow pow’ — it was super fast,” said Laird. “My husband and I both sat up in a panic thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what was that? Was that gunfire?'”
Another neighbor was taking a walk when a man drove by in a truck and started shooting at police who were following not far behind. Laird said the police vehicles had their lights on but not their sirens.
She estimated the suspect fired up to 15 shots while trying to flee through her neighborhood before turning back onto Highway 30.
Police chased the suspect for about 12 miles. The chase ended near the community of Deer Island north of St. Helens.
Images shared with KOIN 6 News by a witness showed bullet holes in a bystander’s car. The same witness said the suspected gunman tried to carjack someone in his attempt to escape.
Police have not said how they killed the suspect; whether they used a weapon or a vehicle to stop him.
Residents were relieved no one else was hurt.
“I’m thankful that nobody else was injured, it could have been so much worse,” Laird said.
The Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation closed Hwy 30 in both directions 4 miles west of Columbia City between mileposts 35 and 36, creating a lengthy traffic jam.
Highway 30 reopened at around 6 p.m.
Oregon State Police troopers are leading the investigation.