March 13, 2014 11:51
Update: The suspect who shot Portland Police Officer John Romero on March 12, 2014, has been identified as 49-year-old Kelly Vern Swoboda.
Original Message Below
On March 12, 2014, around 4 p.m. in the afternoon, Portland Police Officer John Romero, an 8-year veteran assigned to the Youth Services Division, and Central Precinct Officers Sze Lai, a 22-year veteran and Edgar Mitchell, a 9-year veteran, were in the Hillsdale area, near the Hillsdale Library, looking for a suspicious male driving a van.
Central Precinct and the Youth Services Division had taken reports of a suspicious male driving a green van in the area of Wilson High School. In response to these reports, officers were providing extra patrol in the area, and had been working with area schools on getting information to students and parents.
A 9-1-1 call had reported the van possibly could be in the area and Officer Mitchell, who was first to arrive, observed the van and its driver on S.W. Dewitt, but the man did not match the description of the driver. The man told Officer Mitchell he was going to visit the library. After he departed, Officer Mitchell observed the back and front license plates of the van were different and the front one included numbers that were reported to be associated with the van.
Officer Mitchell and Officers Lai and Romero, who were now on scene, went to the library to search for the man. Officer Mitchell and Lai looked for the man at the library while Officer Romero went back to the van and then saw the suspect walking down S.W. Cheltenham Street.
Multiple witnesses have given statements to investigators that Officer Romero gave numerous commands to the man, but he kept walking, ignoring the officer. At some point, the man stopped and during the course of the encounter, both Officer Romero and the man fired weapons. At 4:07 p.m. Officer Romero reported shots fired. Medical personnel were dispatched and Officer Romero took a position of cover. Responding officers rendered him medical aid while others approached the downed suspect with a ballistic shield. Medical personnel checked the suspect and confirmed he was deceased. A firearm was found near the suspect.
Portland Police Bureau Detectives responded as did Mayor Charlie Hales, Chief Mike Reese, members from the Independent Police Review and the Police Bureau's Internal Affairs Division, the City Attorney's Office, the District Attorney's Office as well as the Major Crimes Team to assist in the investigation.
Officer Romero was transported to a local hospital with an injury to his hand and arm. He has since been released and is resting comfortably at home.
An autopsy is scheduled for this morning by the Oregon State Medical Examiner. The suspect's name will be released after he has been identified and family notifications have been done.
The suspect, who had a warrant for his arrest for robbery, was also a suspect in bank robberies and other crimes in multiple jurisdictions. He was also a suspect in a kidnapping and attack that occurred in January. Federal officials and other jurisdictions were actively looking for the suspect.
Portland Police Detectives have confirmed that the suspect was also the person involved in the associated reports of a suspicious van following kids.
Due to the cases involving multiple jurisdictions, this is a complex investigation. Investigators will be interviewing numerous witnesses that have come forward, executing a search warrant of the van with the aid of the other jurisdictions and gathering additional evidence, prior to interviewing the officer.
As is standard procedure, Officer Romero will remain on paid administrative leave, pending the ongoing investigation.
Once the investigation is complete, the entire case will be presented to the District Attorney's Office who will schedule a Grand Jury.
Sgt. Pete Simpson
Portland Police Bureau
1111 SW 2nd Ave, Suite 1526
Portland, Oregon 97204