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RAINIER, Ore. -- The town of Rainier was mourning their police chief, who was shot and killed outside a church just before noon Wednesday after a struggle with a 21-year-old man at a car stereo shop.

The suspect was identified by Columbia County officials as Daniel Butts, of Kalama.

Investigators said the struggle between Butts and the chief at RainierSound Authority ended with the chief, Ralph Painter, fatally shot just before 11 a.m.

Facebook: In memory of Chief Ralph Painter

My condolences go out to Ralph Painter and his family. He did not deserve to die, Daniel's father Mikel said Thursday. My son has been paying property taxes and lights and water bill and been a worker. I don't know where this came from. But Ralph didn't deserve to die.

Butts was shot by police and taken to a local hospital under guard, then transferred to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland. He was expected to recover from his wounds.

Rainier Mayor Jerry Cole said it was a sad day for his small northwest Oregon town. Chief Painter led a force of five officers.

We've lost our police chief ... in a line-of-duty death, Mayor Jerry Cole said. This has been a tragic day in our city's history. No one thinks that something like this will happen.

Ralph was my friend for 25 years, an emotional Cole said, calling him an outstsanding police officer who served the city for 20 years and as chief for the past five years.

I'm sorry for my reaction right now. He was a wonderful father, husband and grandfather, dedicated to the citizens of Rainier.

Columbia County deputies stated the officer made contact with the suspect at the store and a struggle ensued. Painter was wounded with a gunshot and later was pronounced dead. Police think the suspect's aim was to steal a car.

Audio:Witness describes shooting | Raw:Video of scene

Highway 30 was closed in both directions for a brief period as police agencies from Oregon and Washington conducted their investigation.

Jeff McCracken, the pastor at the Rainier Assembly of God Church, told KGW he heard police sirens, started watching the incident unfold outside his window and almost got shot himself.

There were officers about 10 feet outside my window with AR-15s... We heard them [police] start yelling at this guy inside to put his weapon down. I told everyone [in the church] to get down. Then all of a sudden a round came through the window I had been looking through, about six inches above my head, where I had just been standing, McCracken said. I started yelling, everybody get out, get out!

At that point, McCracken and the others inside the church ran to the opposite side of the building. They said police told them to stay inside as a safety precaution.

Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said his was the lead agency and they would be working closely with state police and nearby agencies, although not a lot of information was going to be shared at the outset.

I lost a partner, Dickerson said. We're a small county but because of that we have learned to work together.

Ralph Painter has been here for over 20 years, from officer to sergeant to chief, Cole said. It s like the dream job in a dream town for a police officers to move up through the ranks.

An account was set up at the Rainier Bank of America for contributions in memory of the chief.

The Associated Press contirbuted to this report


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