Suspected car thief arrested, after standoff with police, in Centennial neighborhood

It wasn’t folks in the house shooting at police – find out why terrified residents say they’re glad to be alive – though their house was trashed …

-1 Police say they suspect the driver who wrecked this car sped away from them because he was driving a stolen car. KOIN Local 6 image.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This story, which took pace in the southern edge of the Centennial Community Association on January 9, had as many twists and turns as Johnson Creek – where the story finally ended, with tear gas fired after a four-hour standoff.

It all started when a Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division officer was looking for speeders near SE136th Avenue and SE Foster Road about 2:15 p.m.

“The officer saw a 1992 Honda Accord – later determined to be a stolen car – traveling at a high rate of speed, eastbound on Foster Road,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “The officer pulled onto the roadway with the intent of stopping the vehicle for speeding, but the it traveled quickly out of sight, eastbound on Foster Road.”

Minutes later, the officer came upon the Honda, now heavily damaged, stopped on the north side of Foster Road near SE 158th Avenue. “The driver got out of the car and ran northbound and out of sight, into a rural neighborhood,” Simpson said.

SE 158th Avenue remains closed, as police investigate the violent incident.

The area into which the speed demon headed is very rural – in fact, the rain-swollen Johnson Creek parallels the north side of SE Foster Road at that point. A bridge on SE 158th Avenue connects to SE Martins – a street with no outlet on either end.

Additional officers, aided by a K-9 unit, were called in to search the area. But then a phone call from a house on SE Martins Street revealed where the suspect had found shelter.

At about 2:33 p.m., a resident in the house which had five occupants called 9-1-1 saying that a man they didn’t know had barged into their house and wouldn’t leave. “The man was ‘muddy and bloody’ we learned,” Simpson added.

Although neighbors told police they through they heard gunshots from inside the house, those reports [in both senses of the word] couldn’t be confirmed.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Mobile Command Center remains on- scene long into the evening hours.

But later, at 3:11 p.m., officers on the perimeter themselves reported hearing gunshots from the house. Command staff told officers in the area to take cover below the rim of Johnson Creek. “At least one bullet was fired past the officers’ position,” related Simpson. “But no one was hit.”

Tension mounted when a man ran from the house with a gun in hand. Officers quickly took him down — but soon learned he was one of the victims, and details about what was transpiring in the home. Another man – with a youngster – exited the house. Police learned the father and child – who both required on-site medical care – were two more of the victims in the house.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) were both called to the scene, while officers continued to watch the house from all sides.

Three more folks made a break for it; officers learned from them that the suspect was now alone in the house, and that at least one firearm was present.

“After approximately two hours of attempting to get the suspect to answer the phone or leave the house, SERT deployed chemical munitions into the residence at approximately 7:15 p.m.,” commented Simpson.

Police say this man, 28-year-old Darwin Leroy Stauffer, was finally taken into custody after being tear-gassed.

Within five minutes of the house filling with tear gas, the suspect opened the front door and crawled out of the house. “28-year-old Darwin Leroy Stauffer was taken into custody, and was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.”

According to MCDC records, Stauffer racked up a number of serious charges – including three counts of Kidnap in the First Degree, two counts of Robbery in the First Degree, all Class-A Felonies, plus other charges – with combined bail amounts of more than $1,300,000. He remains in custody.

Meanwhile, the five housemates, most of them said to be students, are staying with family and friends, while the home undergoes repairs and deep cleaning – estimated to cost up to $15,000.

Want to help out? CLICK HERE to open a website set up to take donations to help clean up their house.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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