A picturesque town along the Oregon coast spent a second anxious day under a near lockdown as rifle-toting, camouflaged police searched for a man accused of shooting an officer before fleeing into the woods.
WALDPORT — A picturesque town along the Oregon coast spent a second anxious day under a near lockdown as rifle-toting, camouflaged police searched for a man accused of shooting an officer before fleeing into the woods.
On the peninsula where authorities focused their search, no one locks their doors; most of the houses are rentals or second homes that are unoccupied during the gray and gusty winter. Now, as a 25-man search party combs the woods and goes door-to-door, people are afraid to go home.
"I'm not going in there without a police escort, for sure," said Michelle Denison, who has been staying at a hotel in nearby Newport.
The manhunt began when a man believed to be David Anthony Durham, 43, of Portland, fled a police chase and escaped into the woods near Denison's neighborhood on the peninsula that juts into the Alsea Bay, stretching for about a mile at its widest point. The manhunt has created a scene befitting the first "Rambo" movie as lawmen scoured the small Pacific Northwest town for a long-haired suspect.
The Lincoln County district attorney has charged Durham with attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder, first-degree assault and eluding police officers, Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said Tuesday.
Newport police Chief Mark Miranda said Durham is considered armed and dangerous and may be accompanied by his 40-pound, black and white dog named Huckleberry.
"He's out there hiding somewhere," said Waldport city manager Nancy Leonard. "There's a lot of forested area, it's very easy to lose yourself."
Meanwhile, the Lincoln City officer shot, Steven Dodds, was in critical condition at a Portland hospital but Hastings said he is showing alertness. Police have video from his patrol car camera of the Sunday night attack and describe how Dodds pulled over the pickup owned by the suspect because the driver was speeding. But they haven't described the circumstances that led to the officer being shot multiple times.
Half an hour after the attack, other officers caught up with the truck and stopped it with spike strips in Waldport, population 2,145. The suspect fired shots at police, ran into a wooded area and also shot at a crab fisherman on a boat in Alsea Bay.
Durham's friends and neighbors in Portland have urged him to surrender safely, said Hastings, who is the chief spokesman in the search.
"We're not looking to bring this to any kind of tragic end on his part," Hastings said.
Durham, who lives on rural Sauvie Island in Portland, was a well-liked volunteer firefighter, according to friends and neighbors. They told KGW-TV in Portland that Durham was an avid landscaper and a helpful neighbor who just recently started to act erratically.
"He's been talking about talking to an alien who's been telling him what to do. He's convinced the police are going to come and get him. He's packed his bags and he's ready to go in case Armageddon happens," said neighbor Nancy Meyer.
She also said that Durham was taking pills for pain and depression and was especially distraught over a recent breakup with his girlfriend.
Durham was moved to "inactive service" as a firefighter six months ago, due to "unspecified emotional problems," according to Sauvie Island Fire District Chief Norvin Collins.
Karen Schevenius, who works at a convenience store on the edge of the search area, said she had several worried calls from friends who urged her not to go to work on Tuesday morning.
"I told them, with all the police crawling around here, this is the safest place in the world," Schevenius said.
She did take one precaution: Schevenius, the local newspaper distributor, called her delivery driver and told him not to make his rounds until after daylight.
"You never know," Schevenius said, "who's out there in the dark."