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Suspect in Rainier officer shooting identified

A Rainier police officer was shot on June 23; the alleged shooter is deceased.
A Rainier police officer was shot on June 23; the alleged shooter is deceased.Photo courtesy of the Rainier Police Department.

The Oregon State Police have identified the man who allegedly shot a Rainier police officer during a traffic stop on June 23.

After a half-day search, police discovered the body of 30-year-old Christopher Eugene Elliott, of Waitsburg Wash., approximately one quarter mile from the vehicle he was driving. An autopsy conducted on June 24 by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Elliott died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A handgun was found near Elliott’s body. The Oregon State Police noted that he had no outstanding warrants. Law enforcement agencies have no confirmed motive for the shooting that wounded Rainier police officer Russ George on June 23.

George is currently at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in fair condition.

Two days ago, George and a reserve officer were following up on a multiple driving complaints that had first been reported in the Scappoose area and continued into Rainier, where George executed a traffic stop on Highway 30 near Veteran’s Way. Officer George was accompanied by a reserve officer whose name has not yet been released.

As Officer George approached the vehicle, the driver, now identified as Elliott, fired at the officer, striking him in the right hand. The bullet continued through his hand and struck the officer in the chest. His ballistic vest stopped the bullet from causing further injury. At 12:30 p.m., Elliot fled the scene in a red Kia Spectra with a Washington license plate. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office coordinated a search involving multiple agencies – using both ground and air support.

Early in the afternoon, officers found the vehicle abandoned outside of Clatskanie on Collins Road #1, a dirt road. Elliott’s body was discovered around 5 p.m.

The injured officer has worked in law enforcement for more than 20 years, starting with the Rainier Police Department in 1993, as a reserve officer. Two years later, George was hired as a full-time police officer. He left the department in October 2001 and has worked in both the Scappoose Police Department and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office until January 2013, when he rejoined the Rainier Police Department.

The reserve officer’s identity will not be revealed until completion of an interview by investigators. The Oregon State Police say that he was hired in September 2013.

Multiple law enforcement agencies assisted in the search for Elliott on June 23. Those include Columbia 9-1-1 dispatch, the sheriff’s offices from Clatsop, Clackamas and Cowlitz counties, the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon State Police.

Detectives from the Oregon State Police Major Crimes section are leading the investigation. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Columbia County District Attorney’s Office and police departments in St. Helens and Scappoose are assisting in the investigation.

This story is ongoing and will be updated when new information is released.