Information is still scarce surrounding a shooting that reportedly began at the St. Helens Chevron early Wednesday, Oct. 9, which ultimately led to the death of the suspect due to law enforcement’s use of deadly force.
St. Helens Police Department (SHPD) officers responded to a report of a shooting at approximately 5:26 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the St. Helens Chevron located at 115 N. Columbia River Highway. According to the Oregon State Police (OSP), the lead investigating agency on the case, the officers located the vehicle suspected of being involved in the shooting, and when they attempted to contact the driver, it fled down Highway 30 towards Deer Island.
Officers pursued until the suspect’s vehicle became disabled near milepost 35, where the suspect attempted to flee on foot. It was then the SHPD officer used deadly force, resulting in the suspect’s death.
The deceased suspect was later identified as Michael Thomas Veatch, 32, of Washington. Veatch made the news in early April when he was picked up by law enforcement following the fatal shooting of Cowlitz County Deputy Justin DeRosier. Veatch’s brother, Matthew Veatch, was facing charges of first-degree rendering criminal assistance. However, police said at the time that Michael Veatch was arrested on a warrant unreleated to the investigation. Officials did not reveal what role, if any, the Veatch brothers played in DeRosier’s death.
Veatch was confirmed deceased at the scene and the ensuing investigation caused the prolonged closure of a portion of Highway 30 between milepost 35 and 36 for approximately a mile around the area. It remained closed until around 6 p.m.
As is policy, the SHPD officer involved in the fatality has been placed on administrative leave.
OSP said detectives are investigating the report of shots being fired from the suspect vehicle prior to, and during the pursuit.
“This was a very dynamic situation with several incident scenes, numerous witnesses, and a large volume of evidence,” OSP said via press release. “In an effort to maintain the integrity of the investigation, information is being withheld until OSP can ensure that witnesses have been interviewed, next of kin notification made and outstanding victims identified and questioned.”
While multiple news outlets have reported various details surrounding the incident, none of those details have been officially confirmed by law enforcement. When asked how the shooting incident began, whether it was considered a robbery or an active shooter, if further injuries were reported, or how, exactly, Veatch was killed, OSP said they would not be releasing further information at this time.
Anyone with any additional information related to the incident is asked to please call the OSP at 503-375-3555 or 1-800-442-0776.
The Chronicle will update this story as new information becomes available.