VANCOUVER, Wash. — A Clark County sheriff's deputy unintentionally shot and killed an off-duty Vancouver police officer after the officer scuffled with an armed robbery suspect at his home Saturday night.
The Vancouver Police Department identified the officer as 52-year-old Donald Sahota.
The sheriff's office had responded to an armed robbery at a Chevron convenience store on Northeast 117th Avenue in the Orchards area earlier that night, according to a news release from the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team which is investigating the shooting.
A man had reportedly pointed a handgun at the clerk’s chest and demanded money. Police said the suspect drove away in a stolen car and deputies pursued him.
After police used spike strips to stop the car in the Battle Ground area, the suspect ditched the vehicle and ran away.
Soon after, a woman called 911 to report that a man who matched the description of the robbery suspect had pounded on her front door and said he had just been involved in a crash. She told dispatch that her husband, Donald Sahota, was an armed off-duty Vancouver police officer and he had gone out to the driveway to try and detain the suspect.
The suspect fought Sahota. Police said Sahota "lost control of his firearm and suffered several stab wounds during the struggle with the suspect." The suspect broke free and ran toward Sahota's house, where Sahota's wife was still on the phone with emergency dispatch. Investigators say Sahota was able to recover his gun, then ran after the suspect who was trying to enter the home. Police said the suspect still had the "instrument" that he used to stab Sahota, but they did not release any specific details about the weapon.
Seconds after additional officers arrived on scene, one Clark County deputy sheriff fired several rounds from a rifle and hit Sahota, according to the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team. The crimes team said Sahota collapsed on his front porch before the responding officers were able to determine he was the homeowner and not the robbery suspect.
Sahota died at the scene. The suspect surrendered and was taken into custody.
“My heart goes out to Officer Sahota’s family and friends and those of us in his VPD family as well. His death is a tragic loss, and he will be deeply missed by many," said Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain in a statement.
Sahota had been with the Vancouver Police Department since 2014. Before that, he worked with the Gresham Police Department and Port of Portland Police Department.
He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle issued the following statement Sunday in response to Sahota's death:
Early Sunday morning we lost a member of our police community. I am heartbroken by the loss of Officer Donald Sahota. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and all those he served with.
Officer Sahota joined the Vancouver Police Department in 2014. I am grateful for his commitment and service to the department, his fellow officers, and the community.
The sudden death of Officer Sahota is devastating, and we don’t have all the details of what occurred. This will be investigated by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team. It will likely be days before we know more.
I hope the community will join me as we hold Officer Sahota’s family and our law enforcement community in our thoughts and hearts. To honor Officer Sahota, all flags at City of Vancouver facilities will be lowered to half-staff.
I appreciate the support we are receiving, however there is no further information available at this time.
The Gresham Police Department also issued a statement, calling Sahota "a kind and thoughtful person."