▶️ Murder charges filed in death of Eastern Oregon police officer


An Eastern Oregon man is facing aggravated murder and first-degree murder charges in the death of a reserve police officer last weekend.

Authorities said Officer Joseph Johnson, a 43-year-old reserve officer for the Nyssa Police Department, was unable to return fire before he died Saturday night. The suspect fled, and Johnson was found dead in his car when sheriff’s officers and medical workers arrived.

Court records indicate Rene Castro, 36, is charged with those two murder counts along with unlawful use of a weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and attempting to elude a police officer.

A grand jury is expected to be convented this week to determine if any of those charges will be amended.

OSP: Suspect in fatal shooting of Eastern Oregon police officer captured

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 him through the area, Goldthorpe said.

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.

Nyssa, population 3,200, is near the Idaho state line about 50 miles northwest of Boise.

Johnson is survived by a wife and two children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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