Police scale back manhunt, hoping suspect will surface

Police scale back manhunt, hoping suspect will surface


by KGW.com and AP Staff


Posted on January 26, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 10:15 AM

WALDPORT, Ore. -- Authorities on Friday began pulling out of a coastal Oregon town where they spent the week searching for a camouflage-dressed man who they say shot a police officer, hoping the suspect will come out from hiding if there are fewer police.

One SWAT team stayed in case David Anthony Durham, 43, was still hiding among the vacation homes in a sleepy neighborhood in Waldport, about 147 miles southwest of Portland. Three other teams left the scene.

"Either Mr. Durham is long gone and we are in a way wasting resources with all the SWAT teams down there, or he is hunkered down in a house somewhere waiting for us to leave," Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda told OPB Radio's Think Out Loud.

"If he sees we are leaving and don't have that much presence any more, he'll surface," Miranda said.

5th Day of Manhunt

Policehad been hunting for Durham since Sunday night, when an officer from Lincoln City was shot during a traffic stop. Police chased Durham's vehicle down U.S. 101, and forced it to stop in Waldport with a spike strip. The driver fled on foot.

Family members describe Durham, of Portland, as an avid outdoorsman who designs his own camouflage clothing and that he had become delusional after taking pain medication for an injured shoulder.

Miranda said they would not use Durham's dog, Huckleberry to try to find him. The dog was with him at the time of the shooting and was later found.

"This is a large territory," he said. "If Mr. Durham is hunkered down in a house, the dog probably would not be able to detect him."

Miranda said Coast Guard helicopters are still flying the area at the mouth of Alsea Bay. They have not found any signs that Durham swam across the frigid waters to escape the peninsula where authorities say he fired on a crab fisherman on Monday.

"He is still considered armed and dangerous, very dangerous," Lincoln County Sheriff's Lt. Curtis Landers said.

On Thursday, police conducted a detailed, door-to-door search in Waldport for the suspect. The manhunt included SWAT officers, search dogs and aircraft in the biggest sweep so far through the area between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean.

Residents free to move about

Residents in the Bay Shore area are now being allowed to come and go without getting their vehicles searched but police were still asking them to stay alert. "Area homeowners and visitors are asked to remain vigilant while the investigation and search continues and to keep their homes, businesses and vehicles secured and locked," said Lt. Gregg Hastings with Oregon State Police.

Hastings said deputies will continue to patrol southern Lincoln County around the clock for any sign of Durham.

Meantime, a Lincoln County grand jury started hearing witness testimony Thursday in the shooting of police officer Steven Dodds. Formal charges were expected soon, authorities told KGW.

The man who police believe wounded Dodds was caught on a surveillance camera in a convenience store about 30 minutes before the shooting, according to police.  Hastings released a surveillance photo of Durham on Wednesday that showed him wearing camouflaged clothing as he walked out of a Lincoln City convenience store. 

Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda said investigators were confident Durham was "hunkered down someplace" like an empty vacation home in the Waldport area.

"We're going to be here until we either find him here or have credible evidence he's somewhere else," he said.

Durham's dog was also found on Wednesday.  The injured dog was spotted by a Lincoln County woman who alerted police after seeing its photo on fliers posted around town and in media reports. Hastings said this was an important find in the search for the man suspected of shooting Lincoln City officer Steven Dodd.

Troopers said that Durham and his dog went separate ways after the police chase, with Durham heading west toward the beach.


View Suspect's dog found in a larger map

The woman called police after seeing the dog in her backyard at the home on NW Pinecrest Road east of Highway 101. A SWAT team was then able to entice Huckleberry into a vehicle and get it to the vet. Officers said it answered when they called its name.

Police have searched the heavily-wooded area where the dog was found and over 250 homes and followed up on 200 reports of suspicious sighting, circumstances and incidents, he said. Durham was wearing a green camo shirt and pants and a black beret when he fled from police, authorities said.

Officials said Tuesday that Durham was wanted for attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder, assault and attempt to elude.

Police believe he was driving the SUV that officer Dodds was trying to pull over when he was shot. Dodds remained in critical condition Wednesday at Legacy Emanuel hospital.

The search includes a Coast Guard helicopter scouring the coastline, said Newport police chief Jerry Miranda.

The police will continue to have a heavy presence in Waldport until Durham is found or there is conclusive reason to believe he is no longer in the area, the chief said.

"We think he's hunkered down someplace," Miranda said. "He's probably waiting for us to leave but we're not going to leave."

Responding to suggestions that Durham may have some type of survival training, Miranda said "he may like to eat bugs and stuff, but that gets old."

The town remained on edge. On Tuesday, 161 of the 625 students enrolled in the school district stayed home, mostly due the  missing gunman, officials said. District schools were locked down all day.

PHOTOS: Police flier, Shooting suspect

Miranda also urged residents to call police if they notice that a car or boat is missing.

"He's going to get more desperate," said resident Sean Nutting. "He already tried to kill a cop, there [isn't] much he's scared of at this point."

Durham's neighbors on Sauvie Island said he was an avid outdoorsman and would be comfortable hiding out in the woods for a long time.

More: Who is suspect David Durham?

Area businesses were helping out by posting fliers with Durham's photo in coastal communities and urging anyone with tips to call police. Durham was described as a 6'3" white male, weighing 160-185 pounds with long brown hair and blue eyes. Police said he may be accompanied by a 40-pound dog named Huckleberry.

Police have advised residents to call 911 immediately if they see anyone suspicious and not to pick up any strangers.

Officer Dodds in critical condition

Officer Dodds was shot multiple times after pulling over Durham's SUV for speeding about 11 p.m. Sunday. Dodds, 45, called in his own "officer down" report to dispatchers.

He was later flown to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland where he was listed in critical condition.

“Family and friends are very encouraged by his response and awareness to their presence in the room. He is fighting very hard,” Hastings said Tuesday. "He’s got a great support group."

Dodd's car had a dash camera, Lt. Jerry Palmer of the Lincoln City police said. Dodds did not fire at the suspect.

"Something obviously went wrong," Palmer said.

Meantime, Durham's home in Sauvie Island was cordoned off by police Monday and access blocked by a Multnomah County Sheriff's Office patrol car. Police also released photos of Durham and his dog, a short-haired Australian cattle breed named Huckleberry, who was believed to be with him.

Durham's neighbor and friend Nancy Meyer told KGW that he had attended a party in Cannon Beach over the weekend, hosted by an employee at Portland's Willamette Blue Print where Durham worked. She said he traveled to Lincoln City with a friend to attend a second party where he became angry.

"He was at a party with a friend, got mad, left the friend at the party and left," said Meyer.

Investigators said officer Dodds pulled over Durham's SUV a short time later and was shot. 

Dodds has strong local roots

Dodds is well-known in the community and was honored as "Officer of the Year" in 2009 and 2010. He was surrounded by family and friends at the hospital.

Longtime friend Tracy Burt, a Port of Portland officer, went to Newport High with Dodds, both graduating in 1985.

"Great guy," Burt said Monday. "Likes to travel. Funny guy."

Dodds is single and has an 18-year-old daughter. He's been with the Lincoln City Police Department for the past six years.

More: Dodds a top cop in Lincoln City

After the shooting, the suspect vehicle, a 1984 Dodge SUV, sped south on Highway 101. It was spotted by Newport police, and several shots were fired at officers in the chase. None were hit. A woman's car also was hit by gunfire. She was not injured.

Map: Waldport manhunt

The SUV was eventually stopped by spike strips about 11:30 p.m. on the highway at Waldport, about 40 miles south of Lincoln City. The driver fled on foot into a wooded area, police said.

A crabber was shot at by  the suspect who may have mistaken him for a police officer, said Miranda. The crabber was trying to spotlight his pots on the water.

"We're going to get him one way or another," Miranda said of the gunman. "We're gonna get him. It's just a matter of time."

State court records showed only minor offenses in Durham's past. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor prostitution charge in Portland in 1999 and had citations for speeding in 2000 and not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle in 1993.