St. Helens releases footage of events leading up to, immediately following October shooting spree
The city of St. Helens on Monday, Dec. 30, released video footage of events leading up to and immediately following a St. Helens police officer's use of deadly force to halt a gunman in October who was randomly shooting at motorists and others in the city and on Highway 30.
The release comes nearly a month after Columbia County District Attorney Jeff Auxier issued a five-page report on Dec. 3 detailing events leading up to St. Helens Police Officer Elijiah Merkwan ramming suspect Michael Veatch, 33, of Cowlitz County, Washington, with his patrol car to subdue Veatch, who was shooting at stopped motorists during their early morning work commute.
Auxier concluded that Merkwan used justifiable lethal force to halt Veatch, per the report.
The incident led to a prolonged closure of Highway 30 around milepost 35, stymieing morning commuters. The highway closure is being referenced by Scappoose Fire District and Columbia River Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Dennis Hoke as the impetus for establishing joint meetings between the fire and local law enforcement agencies to improve communication.
The city noted that it had received several media requests for the footage, hence the release.
The time-stamped footage begins with a surveillance camera feed at the St. Helens Chevron station at Highway 30, where Veatch launched his rampage by pointing a gun at a worker at the station and then shooting out a window in the front of the store with workers and morning patrons inside, and continues through several other feeds, including body cam footage that picks up immediately after Veatch had been rammed, including officer efforts to revive Veatch and interactions with associates of Veatch..
Oregon State Police was the lead agency that investigated the circumstances leading to Veatch's death.
The released footage includes:
> Letter of explanation from Axon, body worn camera vendor for St. Helens Police Department, explaining body worn camera video recovery error
> Two redacted surveillance videos from St. Helens Chevron gas station
> Two redacted body worn camera videos from responding St. Helens police officers
> One unredacted body worn camera video from responding St. Helens police officer (may need to download in order to view)
> Nest video from St. Helens residence capturing sound of gunfire
Access to footage of the shooting incident at the Chevron and gunfire captured by a resident's Nest video feed is available at the following links:
The Spotlight is not providing links to the officer body cam footage due to its graphic nature, including images of Veatch's body after he had been rammed.
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