ONTARIO, Oregon (AP) — Authorities have arrested a man suspected of killing an eastern Oregon reserve police officer.
The Malheur County District Attorney’s office confirmed Monday morning that the suspect in the Saturday night shooting of Officer Joseph Johnson was arrested in connection with the shooting. The suspect, who has not been charged, was previously identified as Rene Castro, 36.
Johnson, a 43-year-old reserve officer for the Nyssa Police Department, died Saturday night after a man he pursued in a car shot at him. The man fled, and Johnson was dead when sheriff’s officers and medical workers arrived.
Malheur County District Attorney David Goldthorpe said the shooting happened after Johnson responded to a report of a violent person damaging property and threatening people at a house. When he arrived, the people at the house told Johnson the suspect had left in a car, and Johnson then pursued the man through the area, Goldthorpe said.
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The suspect eventually pulled over and began shooting, Goldthorpe said, hitting Johnson while he was still in his car and before he had time to return fire or defend himself.
Law enforcement agencies searched for the suspect throughout the weekend, and the Nyssa School District told parents that students would be allowed to stay home if they wished and schools would modify security procedures and recess hours “out of an abundance of caution” during the search.
It was not immediately known if the suspect has retained an attorney.
Nyssa, population 3,200, is near the Idaho state line about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Boise.
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek ordered flags at public institutions to be flown at half-mast until sundown Monday in honor of Johnson.
“This is an absolute tragedy,” she said in a statement. “Officer Johnson’s service and dedication to his community and our state will not be forgotten.”
Johnson is survived by a wife and two children.
Nyssa Police Chief Don Ballou wrote in a Facebook post that the department was working closely with the Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation to provide assistance to Johnson’s family. He said the shooting “sent a shockwave through our loving community.”
“I do not have the words to describe a loss of this magnitude; the loss of of one of Nyssa’s finest, dedicated and most humble servants, Reserve Corporal Joseph Johnson,” he wrote.
Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.