News and Press Releases
Driver of Stolen Vehicle Killed in Columbia County Sheriff's Pursuit PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 July 2010 06:24
The driver of a stolen motor vehicle was killed Sunday night after a Columbia County Sheriff's deputy attempted to stop the car and an 18-mile pursuit ensued.  The suspect vehicle crashed in an apparent effort by the driver to avoid a spike strip on the roadway, resulting in a vehicle fire.  The deputy and an officer from the Vernonia Police Department pulled a passenger from the wrecked car, but the driver could not be rescued before the vehicle became engulfed in flames.  The crash occurred on Scappoose-Vernonia Rd, approximately three miles east of the Nehalem River Highway.
The pursuit began a little after 9:00 Sunday evening when a deputy observed the suspect vehicle operating near Brinn and Pittsburg roads. The vehicle matched  the description of a stolen vehicle reported to have eluded Scappoose police the day before.  As the deputy attempted to overtake the suspect vehicle, the driver of the stolen car sped up, and the chase was on. 
The pursuit lasted 15 minutes and traveled approximately 16 miles.  Speeds got as high as 80 miles per hour on the route beginning at Sykes Rd and West Kappler, continuing on Cater Rd before heading west on Scappoose-Vernonia Rd.  During the pursuit the suspect was observed throwing debris out the driver side window in an apparent effort to create obstacles for the pursuing deputy.  Items thrown from the vehicle included, "The Club" (anti-theft device), large fencing staples, a gasoline can, and even a pair of pants. The suspect drove the stolen car approximately 10 miles on Scappoose-Vernonia Rd. before a Vernonia Police Officer  deployed spike strips in an effort to deflate one or more of the suspect vehicle's tires.
It appeared that the driver of the stolen car attempted to avoid the spike strip, lost control of the vehicle and left the roadway, where it burst into flames.  The pursuing deputy and the Vernonia Police officer responded quickly to the burning vehicle and were able to pull the passenger from the flames.  The car quickly became engulfed, making further rescue attempts impossible.
The passenger was taken by Lifeflight Helicopter to Emanuel Hospital with life-threatening injuries.  The driver was declared dead at the scene.  Currently we do not have positive identification of either the passenger or the driver.
The vehicle, a 1989 Nissan 240SX was reported stolen to Portland Police on June 26.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office requested the assistance of an Oregon State Police crash reconstructionist.  The state police will be handling the investigation of the crash.
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 11:48

An Oregon State Police trooper and a Columbia County deputy shot and killed a bull Sunday evening after driving upon a scene in a field along Highway 30 between Warren and St. Helens and saw the bull attacking a man. After the attack, HOMERO CORTEZ ORTEGA, age 38, from St. Helens, was transported by LifeFlight to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) with serious abdominal injuries.

On June 27, 2010 at approximately 6:12 p.m. OSP Trooper Justin Oxenrider was patrolling along Highway 30 near milepost 27 when he was flagged over by some people reporting a bull attacking a man in a nearby field at farm located at 35510 Millard Road. The farm property is on the east side of the highway.

Oxenrider was about 80 yards away from the fenced property and saw a man laying on the ground with a large bull standing over him. Oxenrider grabbed his patrol shotgun, and with Columbia County Deputy Dave Peabody who arrived on scene armed with an AR-15 rifle, the two officers ran to the fence line about 40 yards from the injured man.

As the officers were developing a plan to get the bull away from the injured man, the bull suddenly lifted the man off the ground and tossed him about 10 – 15 feet into the air. Using their weapons, Oxenrider and Peabody shot the bull several times causing it to move away from the man.

The man remained motionless on the ground with open stomach wounds. Reserve Deputy Greg Brody, who is a full time area firefighter, arrived on scene and provided initial emergency medical care while Oxenrider, Peabody, and a passing citizen named Paul Erickson from St. Helens who stopped to help, shot and subsequently killed the bull.

HOMERO CORTEZ ORTEGA, who reportedly works at the farm, was transported by LifeFlight to Oregon Health Sciences University for treatment of serious injuries. He is in serious condition.

Highway 30 was briefly closed as emergency responders arrived. The highway was re-opened to one lane in both directions until emergency responders cleared the scene.

OSP and Columbia County Sheriff's office were also helped at the scene by St. Helens Police Department and Columbia River Fire & Rescue.

Monday, 21 June 2010 09:31

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to offer a women's self-defense class to the public every other Saturday in July and August this summer. The classes will be held in the Sheriff’s Office Training/Conference Room at 901 Port Avenue, in St. Helens.  The classes will begin at 9:00 A.M. and will conclude at approximately 3:00 P.M.  The class will be offered free of charge to Columbia County residents and a light lunch will be provided at no charge.

Classes are offered on the following Saturday dates this summer:  July 17, July 31, August 14 and August 28.  The classes will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a light lunch provided at no cost. Although the classes are free, a sign-up process is involved.  Class space is limited, so early registration is encouraged.

The course will be taught by certified defensive tactics instructors who received their certification through the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) and American Council on Criminal Justice Training (ACCJT).  The course is designed to teach participants skills to protect themselves in situations that could result in serious assault or death.  The course will be taught in “hands on” format.  Topics will include personal safety strategies for the workplace and travel.

All participants are asked to bring a bottle of water and to wear comfortable clothing, socks and tennis shoes.  Participants under the age of 18 are required to have a parent present and sign a release form in order to participate in the class.  If you plan to send your child with another adult, please contact the Sheriff’s Office prior to the class to ensure the accommodation can be made.  Due to the mature nature of the information presented, this class is not appropriate for children 15 years and younger. 

Class space is limited and individuals interested in participating must pre-register to attend.  Registration forms are available at the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office or by going on line to the sheriff's web pages at Questions can also be directed to Timmi Sue at the Sheriff's Office at (503) 366-4651.

Download the Women's Self Defense Class Flyer

Download the Women's Self Defense Class Application

Last Updated on Monday, 21 June 2010 09:38
Sunday, 25 April 2010 13:21
Columbia County Sheriff's Deputies today added charges of attempted murder to the list of offenses they have against the man taken into custody early Saturday morning after firing several shots from a semi-automatic pistol late Friday night.

A Circuit Court Judge set the Security Release amount at $150,000 for Peter Schwert, 38, after deputies arrested the Scappoose-area man earlier Saturday morning.

Charges of 2 counts of Attempted Murder were added to the booking report, after investigators determined some of the shots fired from Schwert's handgun were aimed at two individuals, one a minor.

No one was injured in the late-night dispute that began when Schwert -- a regular customer at Mark's On the Water (in the Columbia Channel) -- was cut off from drinks in the bar at the restaurant.  A verbal dispute ensued,and Schwert was escorted off the property.  The suspect, however, returned a short time later and reportedly began firing rounds from his hand gun.

Investigators believe Schwert was intoxicated at the time he returned to the restaurant armed with a silver, semi-automatic pistol.  Schwert reportedly confronted employees of the restaurant as they were leaving for the night, after the restaurant had closed. He pointed the gun at one of the employees and fired at least two shots at the employee and his son (a 14-year-old boy who also works at the restaurant), as the two drove away from the scene.

Additional rounds were also fired.  Investigators believe at least 8 rounds were fired from the gun.   Deputies are continuing to investigate the incident.

Schwert is lodged in the Columbia County Jail on two counts of Attempted Murder, two counts of Menacing, two counts of Pointing a Firearm at Another, four counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, four counts of Recklessly Endangering Another, and one count of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.
Last Updated on Monday, 26 April 2010 10:50
Sunday, 25 April 2010 13:16

A gunman who opened fire in the parking lot of a floating restaurant in the Multnomah Channel is in custody today.

Columbia County Sheriff's deputies arrested Peter Miller Schwert, 38, Scappoose after he reportedly fired six rounds from a semi-automatic pistol during a dispute at the "Mark's on the Channel" restaurant located in McCuddy's Marina in the Multnomah Channel south of Scappoose.

"We responded to Mark's on the Channel Friday night at 11:38 p.m. when we received a call that someone with a gun was firing shots as he walked across the parking lot," Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said. "Oregon State Police and Scappoose Police responded initially, but we were able also to respond with deputies on the water and in the field adjacent to the restaurant.  The Saint Helens Police Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) also responded and helped flush out the suspect."

Schwert was taken into custody at 2:34 a.m. after CIRT began searching an area north of where the shooting occurred. Two deputies on the perimeter of the search area located the suspect and took him into custody without further incident. 

Additional resources from the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office were also summoned as  officers and deputies combed the tall grass in the area for the suspect. Multnomah County Sheriff's Office posted a deputy on Sauvie Island across the channel from the restaurant, and the Police Bureau was scrambling air support with infrared viewing capabilities about the time the suspect was taken into custody. Rainier, Scappoose, St. Helens and Oregon State Police officers all assisted with the search and containment of the suspect. Columbia 911 Dispatch also committed a tactical dispatcher to the scene.

The incident remains under investigation, and updates will be published as they become available.

Schwert was lodged in the Columbia County Jail on two counts of Menacing, two counts of Pointing a Firearm at Another, two counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, two counts of Recklessly Endangering Another, and one count of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.


Peter Schwert










Last Updated on Sunday, 25 April 2010 13:20
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