PORTLAND -- The school resource officer who shot and killed a violent kidnapping suspect Wednesday was treated and released from a Portland hospital after being hit with gunfire.
Officer John Romero, an 8-year-veteran of the Portland Police Bureau assigned to youth services, was shot in the hand while investigating reports of a suspicious man near Wilson High School.
Romero's job was to protect students and on Thursday, many were calling him a hero.
"Through his actions, he put a stop to something that could have been really awful," said principal Brian Chatard. "It definitely hits close to home."
Witnesses said the suspect, Kelly Swoboda, wanted for kidnapping and bank robbery, ignored commands from Romero and both men shot at each other. Romero then took cover while other officers approached Swoboda and determined he had been killed, according to a PPB statement.
Swoboda was shot in the chest and heart, according to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner's Office.
Students at the school were praising Romero Thursday, saying he likely saved some lives.
"I think the school should be proud of him for what he has done," said Wilson High student Kavi Kien. "I could call him a hero at the school, who protected us from a suspect."
"I could easily consider him a hero. He definitely did his job and he was doing what he had to do,” added student Sheena Mendoza. “He’s a great guy. He’s taken me home because I’ve forgotten my bus pass.”
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales also commended Romero for his actions on Wednesday.
"I got to speak with his fellow officers and the command staff, and I’ve heard the reactions of people from Wilson High School, where he is known as a valuable member of the community and a school resource officer," Hales said.
Romero was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and treated for injuries to his hand and arm.
"He has since been released and is resting comfortably at home," police said in a press release.
Romero will remain on paid administrative leave throughout the investigation.
The woman seriously hurt in the attack and kidnapping in Milwaukie, that first sparked the Swoboda manhunt, is still recovering from the terrifying ordeal.
The owner of the tanning salon where she worked said there was relief in knowing that her attacker is no longer on the loose.
“We’re thankful to the local authorities who risked their lives in tracking down this violent criminal,” said Brad Carmony with Palm Beach Tan.