Thief rams officer on Powell, escapes - before Lents recapture
An unlikely, lengthy, and potentially-deadly saga began on Christmas Eve, December 24, at 8:51 p.m., at the Astro Gas Station on Powell Boulevard at Chavez Blvd (formerly 39th).
That was when a Central Precinct officer spotted a stolen 1988 white Chevrolet pickup truck in the gas station, and reported it.
Shortly after that, arriving officers radioed to dispatchers that the pickup truck was occupied by two people – and then another radio call reported that an officer had been involved in a shooting at the location. Then, other officers at the scene reported that the suspect vehicle rammed a police patrol vehicle and hit an officer.
The incident eventually led 29 officers out to that location, as well as others who spread out to search for the stolen truck after it burned rubber of the gas station's lot.
"The stolen pickup truck fled the scene, and was found unoccupied over an hour later near S.E. 54th Avenue and Belmont," Portland Police spokesperson Officer Melissa Newhard told THE BEE. "Officers searched the area with a K-9 Team, but did not find the suspects."
It was later revealed that a 15-year PPB veteran officer had suffered a fractured pelvis after being rammed by the truck and she is still in the hospital recovering from the injury; and that she had been the officer firing the shots.
Suspect captured, then escapesDays later, during the investigation of the incident PPB detectives developed information that the suspect for whom they were looking was 24-year-old David Michael Dahlen III.
Officers found Dahlen in the Lents neighborhood, near S.E. 101st Avenue and Insley Street, and after a short foot pursuit, captured him near the south edge of Bloomington Park.
Dahlen was taken Downtown to Central Precinct in the Justice Center, and placed in a secured "holding room" for detectives to interview him. The officers were gathering the necessary paperwork for booking him into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on numerous felony charges.
But, when detectives returned at 5:30 p.m. that afternoon, they discovered that Dahlen had escaped.
"While Dahlen was in the holding room, two members of a contracted cleaning crew were doing COVID-19 disinfecting in the Detective Division," later explained Portland Police spokesperson Officer Derek Carmon. "One of the cleaning crew members opened the door to the holding room, then closed it again wjhen they realized the room was occupied.
"We believe that the door did not fully latch after they closed it," Carmon continued. "Sometime after the cleaning crew members left, investigators believe Dahlen pushed the door from the inside – found it to be unsecured, got out, found his way to a stairwell – which was unlocked for fire safety reasons – and exited the building from a south-side door."
Captured again, in LentsDays after that, in the early morning hours of Friday, January 8, members of the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force again located Dahlen, the attempted murder suspect and escapee, once again in the Lents neighborhood. This time he was in the parking lot of Lents Park, along S.E. 92nd Avenue, just south of Holgate Boulevard.
The U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force was called in help from PPB's Homicide Unit, Tactical Operations Division, and K-9 Division – and called for East Precinct patrol officers to assist."At 8:50 a.m., the U.S. Marshals attempted to block the vehicle Dahlen was in. However, he was able to escape the Marshals' efforts by fleeing eastbound on Holgate Boulevard," Portland Police spokesperson Sergeant Kevin Allen told THE BEE.
East Precinct officers set up spike strips on Holgate Boulevard near S.E. 111th Avenue, deflating the tires of the vehicle driven by Dahlen.
"The driver attempted to swerve around another vehicle, lost control, and crashed into a retaining wall and a power pole near 114th Avenue," Sergeant Allen said. "The impact damaged the pole, and knocked wires onto the street."
Although escapee Dahlen hobbled out of the smashed vehicle, and did his best once again to run away, an East Precinct officer quickly took him into custody.
Claiming that he was injured, Dahlen was transported for an evaluation at a hospital, but his stay there was brief. He was booked into the MCDC on January 8 at 11:02 p.m., on two Class A Felony and three Class C Felony charges:
· Attempted Murder in the First Degree
· Assault in the First Degree
· Assaulting a Public Safety Officer
· Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle
· Escape in the Second Degree
Dahlen currently is still in jail at MCDC, in lieu of $560,000 bail.
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