News and Press Releases
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
Are you a recent theft victim? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 April 2010 10:18

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office, along with several city jurisdictions, continues to receive reports of thefts from the Highway 30 corridor between Rainier and St. Helens.  The majority of thefts occurred between March 15 and March 23. 

It is not too late to report a theft of your property.  Please contact us via a special report link on our contact page so the investigator managing the case can contact your for additional information.  It is important that we hear from you!

Sheriff's Office Determines Injury to 2-year-old to be Accidental PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 18:27
When a mother drove her vehicle over her two-year-old daughter in their driveway at their home near Rainier Friday night, it was an unfortunate accident, a Columbia County Sheriff's Office investigation has determined.
A deputy responded to Emanuel Hospital in Portland last Friday evening after learning the child had been flown there by Lifeflight from St. John Hospital in Longview. The child had been taken to the hospital after CPR attempts by family members had revived the child.
The sheriff's office investigation indicated that the mother, Julie Jo Biddix, 27, of Rainier had placed her daughter, Cordelia Biddix, 2, in the vehicle and believed her daughter was in her car seat when she began to back out of the driveway.  Somehow, the child had made her way outside the vehicle by the time she began to back up, and she ran over the child in the family driveway.  A family member picked up the child (who had stopped breathing) and administered CPR.  After the child began breathing again, she was transported by the family to St. John Hospital.
The incident occurred around 8 p.m. on Friday, March 26.
After the child was taken to the hospital in Longview, she was flown by Lifeflight to Emanual Hospital, where she was treated for face and shoulder injuries.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 18:28
CCSO announces Fingerprinting for your Kids PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:51
CCSO would like to invite your family to our office to fingerprint your kids for child safety on March 27, 2010 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  See our flyer here for information.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 March 2010 20:56
Friday, 26 February 2010 12:46

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office has two more people in custody today in relation to the ongoing criminal investigation stemming from the arrest of Devin Wilmoth on February 11 on charges of Robbery and Attempted Murder.

Charged in relation to a crime spree in Columbia County that includes Burglary, Robbery, Attempted Murder, Attempted Kidnapping and Theft are Ezra St. Helen, 23, Rainier, and Darren Cornwell, 36, Fairview. Investigators believe Wilmoth(26, Clatskanie), St. Helen and Cornwell are responsible for a string of violent crimes against numerous individuals in Columbia County, and that there could still be more victims and suspects involved.

These most recent arrests are the result of a three-county, multi-agency investigation.  Assisting the Sheriff's Office in its investigation have been members of the Columbia Enforcement Narcotics Team (CENT), the St. Helens Police Department, Fairview Police Department and the U.S. Marshals office, who have played major roles in the investigation.  The Rainier and Clatskanie Police departments and the Oregon State Police have also helped with the investigation, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said.

"After the arrest of Wilmoth, we began to hear of other crimes that had been occurring and leading up to the events of February 9, when we believe Wilmoth stole Andrew McKinley's pickup at gunpoint and fired several shots at him," the sheriff said. "We now believe the events of February 9 were the last in a series of violent crimes perpetrated against people who the suspects figured would not go to the police."

Information thus far has led to indictments and arrests of the three suspects, and there could be additional crimes and suspects, the sheriff said.

"What we know thus far is that there are three – potentially four events beginning in mid-January where these suspects and possibly others robbed other victims at gunpoint and even fired shots at them, similar to the events we know about on February 9 with our victim, Mr. McKinley," Dickerson said.

Investigators believe Wilmoth, St. Helen and an unknown female suspect went to a home in Rural Columbia County on January 20 and robbed the resident at gunpoint.  The male victim was known to at least one of the suspects, who got away with $1,500.  The investigation shows the motive was to take drugs, money and valuables from the victim, who was unconvinced to surrender the cash until Wilmoth fired a shot just past him at point blank range on January 20.

Earlier that same day, Wilmoth and St. Helen, along with another unknown female burglarized a rural Columbia County residence.

On January 27, investigators believe Wilmoth, St. Helen and Cornwell returned to the residence where they had committed the burglary and robbed the male victim of $2,500 at gunpoint. They also attempted to kidnap the victim, forcing him into the back of a pickup truck at gunpoint, the victim escaped and ran into the woods to hide.

That same day, Wilmoth, St. Helen and Cornwell are believed to have accosted the male victim they had robbed of $1,500 on January 20th, tackling him as attempted to get away from them and relieving him of $50 the victim had on his person. They also attempted to kidnap this victim, but he, too, escaped into the woods nearby.

"In all these instances," Dickerson said, "we believe the suspects thought they could get away with their crimes without being reported." He said the investigation continues to focus on other reports of similar crimes in the county.

Cornwell was arrested at his residence in Fairview without incident with the assistance of the Fairview Police Department on February 24, after he was indicted by the Columbia County Grand Jury.  St. Helen was taken into custody at his residence in the Price Road Trailer Park near Rainier – the scene of numerous police actions in recent months – on February 25.

"This investigation continues to be the result of a high degree of cooperation across jurisdictional lines," the sheriff said. "With our limited resources, and only one detective who is assigned to our inter-agency narcotics team, our ability to stay on top of these types of crimes is minimal.  We have had a huge amount of assistance from our partner agencies, and that, more than anything else is the reason we have these suspects in custody."

Anyone with information regarding these crimes or other criminal events can leave a message for investigators on the Columbia County Tip Line at (503) 397-0007 or (877-798-8881).

Darren Cornwell
Darren Cornwell

 Ezra St Helen
Ezra St Helen

Devin Wilmoth
Devin Wilmoth

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