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Man charged with murder after Tigard police find 27-year-old dead

Police found Nico Merritt dead in a parking lot just off Southwest Pacific Highway on March 11. After a short vehicle chase, officers arrested Yabets Ayele.
Credit: Артем Константинов - stock.adobe.com

TIGARD, Ore. — Tigard police have arrested a man accused of shooting and killing a 27-year-old early Saturday morning.

Around 1:05 a.m., a 911 caller notified dispatch about a man with a gunshot wound. The caller said the suspect had left the area in a vehicle. 

Police found the man in a shared parking lot between Natural Grocers and Mr. Hookah, just off Southwest Pacific Highway. Officers tried to administer medical aid, but the man died, Tigard police said. Police have identified him as Nico Merritt of Portland.

Officers found the suspect's vehicle traveling away from the scene, heading northbound on Southwest Pacific Highway. After a short chase, the officers were able to stop the vehicle about a mile away near the intersection of Southwest Main Street and Southwest Scoffins Street. 

Police detained two people and identified one of them as 32-year-old Yabets Ayele of Forest Grove.

Ayele has been charged with murder. He also faces charges of attempting to elude and driving while suspended.

Tigard police have not publicly identified the second person who was detained. They have also not said whether that person is facing any charges.

The Tigard Police Department said they believe the shooting was an "isolated incident" and there is no danger to the public. They didn't specify whether Ayele and Merritt knew each other.

Tigard police asked that anyone who was in the area of Pacific Highway between Walnut Street and Park Street at the time of the shooting contact their tipline at 503-718-COPS or send an email tips@tigard-or.gov. Anyone with information can remain anonymous.

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