RAINIER, Ore. -- A police officer was shot Monday in an altercation with a suspect during a traffic stop. The suspect fled the scene and after an hours-long manhunt was found dead from suicide.
Rainier police Officer Russ George suffered a non-life-threatening injury. His bullet-proof vest saved him from a more serious wound.
Around 12 p.m., George stopped the suspect vehicle along Highway 30 and near Veterans Drive, according to Columbia County Fire & Rescue Chief Jay Tappan.
The vehicle was headed from the Portland direction into Rainier, but there was no word on the exact traffic violation.
A fight ensued, at least one shot was fired and the officer suffered a minor injury, Tappan said.
The bullet passed through George's hand and then hit him in his chest, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police.
A witness heard the shootout from his nearby home and went to see what was happening.
"I just heard those two shots and I knew it was gunfire and I went down there and he was already gone," said Clair Groulx, a close friend of George's. "He was just here Sunday morning, showing me pictures of his grandson so... very emotional time for me."
George arrived at Peacehealth St. John Medical Center in Longview, Wash. He was then transferred by ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. He was listed in fair condition Tuesday.
The suspect was on the loose most of Monday afternoon. He drove west on Highway 30 to the Clatskanie area. Police warned residents near Collins Road of the active search, Dickerson said.
As officers searched intensely for the suspect, a witness in the area reported hearing a single gun shot. The suspect vehicle was located and several hours later the suspect was found dead nearby, according to Oregon State Police.
The man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The incident was considered a suicide by the Oregon State Medical Examiner's office.
The community of Rainier was shaken by another police shooting in January, 2011, when police chief Ralph Painter was killed by a theft suspect at a car stereo store.
"It's very, very difficult to deal with," said Groulx. "It’s just one of those things. Not another one, you know what I mean. I can’t handle it."
January 2011: Rainier mourns police chief killed in shooting
KGW reporter Mike Benner contributed to this report.