MADRAS, Ore. - (Update: Stolen-car, chase suspect shot by police improving)
An 18-year-old Sunriver resident shot and wounded by police when he allegedly confronted them with a gun after a 50-mile two-county high-speed chase last week improved to fair condition Monday at St. Charles Bend.
Christopher James Thomas Sweeney remained Sunday at St. Charles Bend, where he was flown by air ambulance after the 11 p.m. Thursday confrontation.
The Central Oregon Major Incident Team has been investigating the officer-involved shooting, the details of which were released Saturday by Oregon State Police on behalf of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
The incident began late Thursday night on Highway 97 near Lava Butte, when a Deschutes County sheriff’s deputy spotted a reported stolen 2007 Toyota Highlander, heading north on Highway 97.
Around the same time, another sheriff’s deputy spotted a second stolen vehicle, a 2004 Chevrolet Venture minivan, also heading north near the Highlander SUV, officials said.
Bend police officers responded to help sheriff’s deputies try to stop both vehicles, which headed north onto the Bend Parkway.
Officers in a guns-drawn "high-risk" traffic stop pulled the Highlander over on the parkway near Robal Road, and the driver, Corey Joseph Gallagher, 19, of Prineville, was taken into custody without incident, officials said. He was booked into the county jail in Bend and arraigned Friday on initial charges of criminal conspiracy, first-degree theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Gallagher was released from jail Saturday after posting 10 percent of his $10,000 bail, pending arraignment next Thursday afternoon on an expected formal grand jury indictment, according to a jail officer and court records.
The minivan driven by Sweeney continued north, reportedly at speeds of 70-80 mph, refusing to pull over for OSP troopers and Deschutes County, then Jefferson County deputies. They successfully deployed spike strips several times to flatten the tires and attempt to slow the vehicle and end the pursuit, officials said.
The minivan continued north into Madras, where officials said Sweeney lost control of the minivan and it came to rest at L Street at Highway 97.
“The suspect, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, exited the minivan and confronted the officers,” the statement said. “Both an Oregon State Police sergeant and Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy discharged their firearms at the suspect,” who was injured and flown to the Bend hospital. The suspect’s gun was recovered at the scene, they added.
No more details were released on how many shots were fired, the nature of Sweeney’s wounds or whether one or both of the officers’ gunshots struck the suspect, due to the ongoing investigation.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave pending completion of the investigation, a standard procedure under Senate Bill 111 investigation protocols, the DA’s office said. They earlier revealed that no officers were injured.
The stolen van was registered to Kim's Housekeeping in Sunriver.
NewsChannel 21 reached out to the business to ask where the van was stolen from, but a woman on the phone declined to offer any information and referred us to the sheriff's office.
The northbound lanes of Highway 97 near L Street were closed for nearly 12 hours for the investigation, with a detour in place.
Madras resident Julio Garcia said he was outside his home finishing a cigarette Thursday night when he saw a line of police vehicles chasing the stolen van.
Garcia said he heard a loud screech and saw sparks from under the vehicle, the van was driving on the tires' rims after hitting "spike strips."
Garcia reported hearing four or five gunshots after the van came to a stop.
"I ran out here to get footage of it on my phone," he said. "You see at least eight or six police troopers, and four city (police) on scene, just following the van. They were actually arresting somebody they pulled them out of the van, because it was (an attempt to) elude, and you see them putting them in handcuffs and at gunpoint."