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September 13, 2012
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Reedsport standoff ends when suspect shoots himself

REEDSPORT — A man suspected of abducting his estranged girlfriend a day earlier fatally shot himself Wednesday following an hourslong standoff in a Reedsport motel room.

The body of Benny Shawn Lee Pishione, 46, was found on the bathroom floor after a SWAT team member broke out a back window and entered the room at the Fir Grove Motel, 2178 Winchester Ave., at about 5:30 p.m. Pishione apparently shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber handgun.

Pishione was accused of approaching his former girlfriend as she left work Wednesday morning at a Coos Bay tavern. He was carrying a brick and threatened to smash it through the windshield of the woman’s car. The woman allowed him inside the car to talk, but he threatened her and ordered her to drive, a bystander who called 911 told police.

The standoff prompted Reedsport Community Charter School officials to close the campus. But the incident did not cause widespread alarm in town, interim City Manager Vera Koch said.

“I don’t think that most people would be aware of what was going on unless they traveled by the area,” she said. “Everything pretty much operated as normal.”

At the charter school, a couple of blocks north of the motel, officials received a call at midmorning alerting them to the standoff and asking them to keep students away from Winchester Avenue, which is also known as Highway 101 as it runs through town. The Oregon Department of Transportation closed the highway in both directions.

“We kept the kids inside, but school went on inside as usual,” Superintendent Jim Thomas said.

Students were released from the school at about 3:30 p.m., two hours before the standoff ended. Students who had driven to school were released first and told to use back roads to avoid driving past the motel.

Buses were brought to the back of the building, where students boarded them. When all of the bus students had left, students who walked to school were allowed to leave, also through the back entrance away from the motel side.

“It went very, very smoothly,” Thomas said. “I’m proud of our staff for the work they did.”

The district alerted parents of the situation by employing a phone system similar to Douglas County’s reverse 911 system. It allowed school officials to record a message that was sent to parents by phone. They were told they could come to the school and take their children home and several parents did that, Thomas said.

Early Wednesday, Reedsport police were asked to watch for Pishione and an officer checking motels found him registered at the Fir Grove. Police approached Pishione’s room about 9 a.m. The suspect tried unsuccessfully to escape out a back window and refused to come out of the room.

Pishione, who listed a Reno address in court records but who had been in the Coos Bay area since at least 2004, had a restraining order issued against him by a Coos County circuit judge last month. It was unclear this morning whether the petitioner in that case was the victim in the kidnapping case.

Police spoke on the telephone to Pishione, who asked to speak to his former girlfriend. She pleaded with him to give himself up and come out of the room.

At about 2 p.m., police officers from Reedsport, Coos Bay and the Oregon State Police using a safety shield approached the room. Using a pass key, the officers opened the door and sent in a police dog.

The dog indicated that no one was in the outer room. Officers entered and found the bathroom door locked. Pishione fired one shot and as officers retreated, they heard a second shot, which they later believed was when he shot himself.

The officers did not return fire.

• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The News-Review Updated Mar 4, 2013 11:31AM Published Sep 20, 2012 10:57AM Copyright 2012 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.