A five-hour police standoff involving multiple law enforcement agencies just feet from the Lincoln City Community Center ended Friday night after a female robbery suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Lincoln City Police Chief Keith Kilian said the incident began late Friday afternoon after officers received a tip from the Seattle Division of the FBI that two robbery suspects were staying at a vacation condominium near N.W. 31st and Inlet in Lincoln City.
Following a stakeout by the Lincoln Interagency Narcotics Team (LINT), a police SWAT team was preparing to arrest the suspects, but the fugitives left in a vehicle before officers could enter the residency.
Police in unmarked cars began to follow a black Nissan Altima they believed to be stolen, but the couple soon realized they were being pursued, Kilian said. Marked patrol cars soon joined the chase.
Police conducted a high-risk stop at a parking lot east of the Elks Lodge near the Community Center just off Highway 101.
"The male suspect fled the vehicle eastbound on 22nd Street armed with a weapon." said Kilian. "The weapon was pointed at an officer. Another officer intervened with his patrol car striking the suspect."
The male suspect, identified as Dale Edward Wallace, 30, suffered injuries from the collision with the marked Oregon State Police vehicle and was taken to Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, where we was flown by air ambulance to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland with serious injuries.
Kilian said the armed female suspect, identified as Sarah Jo Johnson, 30, barricaded herself in the vehicle, where police began negotiations. She died at the scene at approximately 8:50 p.m.
"She pointed the weapon to her head several times," Kilian said. "This is not the best place to be where there are lots of citizens in the area. We did a very good job of evacuating people to make this as safe as possible."
The Community Center and several surrounding businesses were locked down as the standoff began shortly after 4 p.m.
"The police told us to stay inside and stay away from the windows," said employee Eddie Ruby of Mills Ace Hardware, just north of the where the standoff occurred. "We had about 22 customers in the store. We went out the backdoor to get some food to keep the customers calm and fed."
Officers continued to try to talk the female suspect into surrendering.
"Negotiations were continuing to about 8:50 this evening when the female suspect shot herself and died from a self-inflected gunshot wound," Kilian said. "It is very sad. We worked very hard to try for a peaceful resolution. No one likes to see a human life being taken. It is not the way that we like to see things end. It is heartbreaking for this to end this way."
Police said the couple was wanted for the Dec, 30, 2013, armed robbery of a coin shop in Butte, Mont. A cell phone ping led police to the condo in Lincoln City.
Both suspects are believed to be from the Butte area. Next of kin have been notified.
The local police major crime team, Lincoln City Police, Lincoln County Sheriff's deputies and Oregon State Police were involved in the chase and standoff.
Read more in the Wednesday, Jan. 8, issue of The News Guard and follow the latest developments at thenewsguard.com