PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Clark County deputy shot and killed an off-duty Vancouver police officer at his home Saturday, and many details on the circumstances leading up to the shooting were released late Sunday night.
The release was sent by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, the team investigating this incident.
Sequence of events
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said the situation started with reports of an armed robbery at a Chevron station convenience store in the Orchards area.
The clerk said a white man, around 23-24 years old, pointed a gun and demanded money, then fled in a stolen, dark-colored Mercedes.
The store clerk, who didn’t want to appear completely on camera, shared his story with KOIN 6 News. He said it was over quickly.
“A dude walks in at 8:15, pulls a pistol out of his pocket, aims it at my chest, hand over the slide and tells me to empty out the register,” he said. “I thought I was getting punked. It might have been fake. I looked for an orange tip to make sure it wasn’t an Airsoft.”
But it was not a joke. The armed robber took the cash and fled.
“He got out of the store, 2 minutes maximum, got in the car and sped out of the parking lot,” the clerk said. “From what I saw it was a midnight blue Mercedes.”
After the robbery, “I just called the cops and the boss lady to sort out what happened and get footage for the cops,” he said. “The cops were here by the time I was done with the dispatcher.”
Twelve minutes later, police intercepted the suspect headed north on I-205, but he didn’t stop. He managed to elude the police for several miles until spike strips disabled his car when he got off I-5 headed to Battle Ground.
The suspect — who has not been publicly named — ran.
As the containment was being set up, a Battle Ground woman called 911 and reported a man who matched the robber’s description was “pounding on their front door asking for assistance because he had just been involved in a collision,” officials said in a release.
The caller said her husband was an off-duty armed Vancouver police officer, Donald Sahota, who went to confront the suspect and detain him until the police arrived.
But the suspect and Sahota physically fought. Sahota was stabbed and lost control of his gun. The suspect ran toward the house, still holding what he used to stab Sahota, while his wife was still on the phone with 911.
Sahota got his gun back and ran after the suspect. Just as he did this, deputies arrived at the scene. A Clark County deputy, mistaking Sahota for the suspect, “fired several rounds from a rifle.”
One neighbor near the scene of the shooting told KOIN 6 News that he heard 4 shots.
Sahota collapsed on his front porch. Despite emergency trauma procedures, Sahota died.
The suspect surrendered and was taken into custody.
Sunday morning, the Vancouver Police Department announced Sahota had been killed at his home.
Video taken by a KOIN 6 News crew showed a large police convoy leaving the area. Police from Ridgefield, Longview, Vancouver and the Washington State Patrol were also seen at the scene Sunday.
Although Sahota had worked on patrol in the past, he was currently assigned to the training unit. He left behind a wife and 2 children.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said the events are a tragedy.
“At this point we are just, it is pretty devastating,” the mayor said. “A tragedy like this for the entire law enforcement department, for his family, and all of the men and women that he works with, his friends and such.”
McEnerny-Ogle said Vancouver will lower flags to half-staff to honor Sahota.
“There is a whole protocol that immediately steps into place for all the individuals in his department but also for his family,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “Everyone is there to wrap their arms around the family and friends and his co-workers and to help during this transition time.”
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.