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Family to sue Lewis County Sheriff's Department for allegedly sabotaging death investigation of hiker

Aron Christensen and his dog were shot to death on a hike near Walupt Lake, located in a national forest about five miles north of Mount Adams.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The family of Aron Christensen, a hiker found shot to death in Washington state, are now suing the law enforcement agency tasked with investigating the killing. 

Aron Christensen and his dog were shot to death on a hike near Walupt Lake, located in a national forest about five miles north of Mount Adams. 

To date, the alleged shooter has not been charged and now Christensen’s surviving family is suing the county leading the investigation.

“It’s been a roller coaster and a nightmare really, it’s bad enough that he’s gone and we miss him but once I found out that he was shot, once we all found out he was shot, it was just a gut punch,” said longtime friend Alex Steininger.

Christensen and his dog were shot to death while out for a hike in August of 2022 -- the lifelong outdoorsman was 49 years old. Detectives identified a 20-year-old shooter who told investigators he feared Christensen and his dog were wild animals. In April of this year, prosecutors in Lewis County announced they would not pursue felony charges citing a lack of evidence. 

“An arrest and some justice would at least give us some healing and some closure and at this point, the friend group really believes we’re being denied that and robbed of it really, so being victimized twice,” Steininger added.  

Family representing Christensen’s estate are now taking the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department to court – alleging the results from a necropsy performed on Christensen’s dog don’t match the narrative released by investigators. 

“The impropriety that we’re seeing, and that we believe occurred happened with Buzzo and the dog being in the exclusive care of Lewis County Sheriff and various deputies there, and suddenly popping up with an exit wound that medical professionals say was not there,” said Olympia based attorney Lorenzo Leoni who is representing Christensen’s estate.  

Christensen’s family members have now filed a legal claim against the county, alleging mishandling of the “deceased puppy, in order to sabotage a criminal investigation.”

“Nothing will really bring Aron back but maybe the lawsuit will at least – maybe not in criminal but in civil terms hold them liable for taking Aaron’s life and I don’t think it’s about the money, it’s about getting accountability and holding someone responsible for the fact that Aron was murdered,” Steininger said. 

Meanwhile, friends are remembering Christensen the best they can – releasing a tribute album in his name with all the money going to his family. 

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