PORTLAND -- The scars on Officer John Romero’s hand and arm are the only physical reminders of the deadly shootout he had with Kelly Swoboda, an armed man wanted by the police.
“I do have to thank God for protecting my life in that instant and moment,” said Romero.
Romero, a school resource officer at Wilson High, was investigating reports of a suspicious man when he suddenly spotted Swoboda.
“I call out and say, ‘Sir, can you stop right there,’ and he is continuing to walk,” Romero said.
The man refused to comply with Romero’s commands. The veteran officer turned to his department-issued weapon.
“As soon as he saw me draw my gun he stands up and starts shooting at me,” said Romero.
The officer was hit instantly, but he had the wherewithal to return fire as he looked for somewhere to hide.
“I can feel the blood dripping down on my gun and onto the street,” recalled Romero. “I’m talking on the radio trying to get people there.”
By the time back-up arrived, the threat was over. The suspicious man was dead. He was later identified as Swoboda.
The 49-year-old was wanted for the kidnapping and sexual assault of a young woman two months earlier.
It appeared he was not finished. Detectives found chains, handcuffs, and handwritten notes about nearly two dozen women inside Swoboda’s van.
The public will never truly know what Swoboda was planning to do. He is gone.
Now, a lot of people in the community are calling Officer Romero a hero.
“I don’t consider myself a hero,” said Romero. “I consider myself a police officer who did his job.”
Romero is currently on light duty, but he plans to return to active duty within the next couple of months. He said he appreciates all the support from the community.