Walla Walla, WA – A Washington state trooper managed to drive himself to the hospital for emergency medical care after a suspect rammed his vehicle and shot him in the face on Thursday night, according to police.
The incident occurred near the intersection of Avery Street and West Poplar Street at approximately 5 p.m. on Sept. 22, the Union-Bulletin reported.
Investigators said the suspect rammed into Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Dean Atkinson’s patrol vehicle before shooting him in the face and fleeing the scene, according to KING.
The wounded trooper managed to drive himself to Providence St. Mary Medical Center approximately one mile away from the scene of the attack, the Union Bulletin reported.
He was subsequently airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in serious condition, according to KEPR.
Trooper Atkinson’s condition was upgraded to stable by early Friday morning, according to WSP Chief John Batiste.
He remained in the Harborview intensive care unit later in the day, according to The Seattle Times.
Meanwhile, police in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, spotted a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle involved in the shooting, KEPR reported.
The suspect initially refused to pull over and led officers on a brief pursuit, according to police.
He was ultimately stopped on Highway 125, just north of Stateline Road, KEPR reported.
The alleged gunman, 37-year-old Brandon Dennis O’Neel, was arrested and booked into the Walla Walla County Jail on unspecified charges, according to police.
“This evening we were once again reminded of how dangerous the profession of law enforcement can be when one of our troopers was involved in a critical incident while on duty in Walla Walla,” Chief Batiste said in a statement. “We were also reminded of how strong and resolute our people can be when Trooper Dean Atkinson though seriously injured, found the strength to drive himself to the hospital.”
The chief said he was “both relieved and happy to announce” that Trooper Atkinson had been stabilized, KEPR reported.
Trooper Atkinson has served the WSP for the past five years.
“Let me say thank you to the outpouring of support from the public,” the chief continued. “I am sure it is and will be appreciated by Trooper Atkinson and his loved ones and indeed all of the men and women in law enforcement in our state.”
“Though there is certainly danger and cruelty in our world, there is also courage and grace, and for that we are thankful just as we are thankful for this fine young trooper’s service and survival,” he added.
The regional Special Investigations Unit is handling the ongoing investigation into the attack at the Walla Walla Police Department’s request, KEPR reported.