'Creepy man' reports led to Swoboda shooting

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'Creepy man' reports led to Swoboda shooting

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by Evan Sernoffsky, KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 6:14 PM

PORTLAND – An officer was wounded, and a dangerous wanted fugitive was shot dead Thursday, ending a months-long manhunt that put much of the state on edge.

Police were searching for 49-year-old Kelly Swoboda ever since he abducted a woman on Jan.27 in Milwaukie, Ore. On Wednesday, they got him.

It all started around 4 p.m., when several students and parents told police about a suspicious man driving a green van in Southwest Portland’s Hillsdale area near Wilson High School. The reports came after several other sightings last week of a "creepy man" in a van confronting students.

Wilson High School resource officer John Romero headed to the scene, along with Portland police officers Szi Lai and Edgar Mitchell, according to Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau.

Mitchell was first to arrive and spotted a man in his van on Southwest Dewitt Street. The driver, who didn’t match earlier descriptions of the suspect, told the officer he was going to the library, so Mitchell let him on his way.

Mitchell then had a look at the van and noticed something was awry. The van’s front and rear license plates were different. The front license plate matched the earlier suspicious-van reports.

Lai and Romero then met up with Mitchell and the three officers headed to the library to find the driver.

But Mitchell turned back to check on the van as the other officers scoured the library. On his way back, Romero spotted the driver walking down Southwest Cheltenham Street, Simpson said.

According to multiple witnesses, Romero shouted over and over at the man to stop, police said. The suspect, however, ignored Romero and kept walking.

At 4:07 p.m., both men drew their weapons and exchanged gunfire, according to Simpson.

Romero was shot in the hand. Swoboda was shot in the chest and heart and died at the scene, according to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner's Office.

"I heard four or five loud pops, and I opened my window to see what it was, and I saw the cops had their guns drawn and I saw the suspect on the ground," said Joseph Senz who lives nearby.

Romero was taken to Oregon Health & Science University, released, and is now at home with his family.

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