For Travis and Julie McCartt, Saturday night began as an excuse to get a meal away from their home near Riddle.
The McCartts were traveling north on Interstate 5 when Travis McCartt first noticed the police chase unfolding along Grant Smith Road.
“I told Julie that road dead-ends there at the house,” he said Sunday.
The two found a vantage point where they could see the field below, and Julie McCartt began filming.
The McCartts had no idea they were about to witness the chilling conclusion to a police chase that would end with the suspect opening fire on police and multiple officers returning fire, causing the suspect’s vehicle to smoke before erupting in flames, according to police.
“We didn’t think it would turn into something so violent,” Julie McCartt said Sunday.
The McCartts spoke near the field Sunday where members of the Douglas County Major Crimes Team continued to comb for clues after the officer-involved shooting. No law enforcement officers were hurt during the incident, according to a press release. Involved officers were placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure for officer-involved shootings.
Police said the series of events began when somebody called the Douglas County Emergency Communication Center to report a possible stolen vehicle observed at Love’s Travel Stop, 280 Grant Smith Road. It appeared to match the description of a vehicle reported stolen to the Eugene Police Department last Thursday. The stolen vehicle reportedly contained multiple weapons and ammunition, including a semi-automatic rifle, according to police.
Members of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police responded to the area and located the vehicle as it was leaving Love’s Travel Stop. Law enforcement attempted to stop the vehicle, and a short vehicle pursuit ensued.
Officers pursued the vehicle to a nearby ranch property where the stolen vehicle became stuck in a field.
In Julie McCartt’s video, the suspect’s car is seen driving slowly across a field before coming to a stop in front of a house, which was reportedly empty at the time.
“I continued videoing thinking we would see the guy get out,” Julie McCartt said.
After a pause, the video shows light flashes, smoke and the sounds of gunfire.
“Oh shit,” Julie McCartt said in the video.
At the sound of gunfire, nearly a dozen cows run immediately to the right of the frame. The video pulls back to where two law enforcement vehicles are visible to the left.
Multiple officers returned fire, police said. During the exchange of gunfire, the stolen vehicle began to smoke and, soon after, was consumed in flames. Police later confirmed the presence of human remains in the vehicle.
Police released a number of photos of a man suspected in connection with the stolen vehicle and the subsequent shooting with law enforcement.
People with any knowledge of the identity of the suspect are asked to call the tip line at 541-957-2099.
Mike Henneke is the news editor for The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter @ihenpecked.