2016: Sherwood shootout on Christmas Day
Editor's note: This story is part of the The Times' special series, "Decade in Review." This series features three stories that helped to define each year of the 2010s. These can retell single stories that captivated readers of the time, a saga that played out across many articles, and even stories that were crowded to the margins by other news at the time but have made a lasting impact on our region.
Lives were destroyed or forever changed, and the peace of what is usually one of the quietest nights of the year was shattered, by a series of shootings on Christmas Day 2016 that left an estranged couple dead and an Oregon state trooper critically injured.
Trooper Nic Cederberg spotted and followed the car of a suspected murderer down Southwest Gimm Lane, a dead-end road in rural Sherwood, late on the night of Dec. 25, 2016. The suspect, James Tylka, opened fire, shooting Cederberg 12 times. When Tylka pointed his gun at other law enforcement officers arriving on the scene, an investigation later concluded, five officers opened fire, killing him.
The lethal sequence began in King City just after 10 p.m., the Washington County District Attorney's Office said, when Katelynn Armand-Tylka arrived at the home of her estranged husband's parents. James Tylka was living with his parents while separated from his wife; under an agreement between them, Armand-Tylka was coming over to drop off their 11-month-old daughter.
Tylka took the girl inside, then walked back outside with a 9-millimeter handgun he had purchased on Christmas Eve, aimed it at Armand-Tylka, and shot her eight times — six times in the chest and twice in the head, according to the official report.
Tylka's mother rushed outside when she heard the gunshots, but Tylka drove away. Investigators said that as he fled the scene, Tylka called her and told her he'd killed his wife and that he was going to kill himself; after that, he called one of Armand-Tylka's friends, then texted Armand-Tylka's sister, to tell them he had killed her.
An all-points bulletin went out alerting law enforcement officers in the area to be on the lookout for the suspect vehicle. It was Cederberg, a U.S. Army veteran, who made contact, spotting the vehicle and following it down Gimm Lane, where the gun battle that nearly claimed his life broke out.
Cederberg underwent multiple surgeries and was hospitalized for more than a month at OHSU Hospital in Portland. He was released Feb. 12, 2017. Even after extensive treatment, he lives with disabilities as a result of the shooting.
The officers who shot Tylka were found to be justified in their actions by the District Attorney's Office after an investigation.
Cederberg and his wife filed a $30 million federal lawsuit in 2018, accusing the Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency — the 9-1-1 dispatch service — of failing to warn him that Tylka was armed and dangerous. The suit also faulted Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin for releasing Tylka, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office for not arresting him, when Tylka was hospitalized for a suicide attempt on Nov. 30, 2016, after he reportedly left text and voice messages with Armand-Tylka "threatening to kill her and her new boyfriend."
Most of the lawsuit was dismissed in 2019.
Cederberg's shooting led to a change in Oregon's gun laws. Gov. Kate Brown successfully pushed a bill in 2018 to expand the category of domestic abusers who aren't allowed to own guns in Oregon. She said she made a promise to Cederberg to protect domestic violence victims and law enforcement officers.
In May 2019, Cederberg visited the White House, where President Donald Trump personally awarded him the National Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor.
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