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Gunman, school district employee injured in exchange of gunfire with police outside Pendleton casino

The suspect and Pendleton School District staffer were injured and taken to a hospital, the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation said.

PENDLETON, Ore. — An armed man is in custody following an attempted robbery and a shootout with police at a casino in Pendleton on Wednesday, according to the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR). 

The Umatilla Tribal Police Department was notified when the suspect tried to leave the Wildhorse Casino and Resort

"Shots were fired and the gunman was injured along with one bystander," CTUIR said in an initial news release.

In a more extensive statement released Wednesday evening, the Tribe said that officers and the gunman exchanged fire. Both the suspect and a bystander were shot in the confrontation, though it was not immediately clear who shot the bystander.

Both people were taken to St. Anthony Hospital. Tribal police did not release information about the extent of their injuries. No one else was injured.

Tribal police have not identified the suspect or said what charges he may be facing.

According to the Pendleton School District (PSD), staff members were at the casino for a school event. Multiple staffers witnessed the shooting, and the bystander who was shot was a PSD employee.

"The wounds don't appear to be life threatening, but it's too early to confirm with 100% confidence," the district said.

The employee went into surgery Wednesday evening and was reportedly recovering as expected.

PSD has set up crisis response teams and additional counseling for staff in need of support.

"The safety and well-being of our students and staff are always our number one priority," the district said. "The PSD staff involved will be meeting to debrief and receive support. Please keep everyone involved in your thoughts."

Credit: KGW

Deborah Fenske, who was visiting the resort with her friend, described the commotion Wednesday afternoon.

"We saw security, and we saw people flying all over the place," she said. "My friend and I were just rushed into a back room, told to keep very quiet, that there was an active shooter.

"We were all just being very quiet and making sure that nobody reacted in a way that would bring about attention towards us. That was our biggest fear — who’s going to come around that corner? Because we couldn't see around the corner."

About 20 police officers responded to the incident including city and county law enforcement, as well as the FBI.

"We are grateful no one else was physically injured with all that took place," CEO Gary George said in a news release. "Security personnel and tribal police were quick to act and the situation was controlled in a swift manner."

The casino remained open, but the food court was closed while law enforcement completed their investigation.

Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center, which is located on the same street as the casino, canceled the remainder of their appointments on Aug. 17.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by this tragedy today," the health center said in a post on Facebook.

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