PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Detectives on Monday provided details about how an attempted murder suspect escaped from police custody.
David Dahlen, 24, remains wanted by police.
Dahlen was taken into custody in the area of Southeast 101st Avenue and Insley Street on Saturday. He escaped later that day.
On Monday, the Portland Police Bureau stated Dahlen was placed in a holding cell in the Central Precinct, which is not a jail, but is instead a secure room for a suspect while detectives prepared to interview him and gathered the necessary paperwork for booking into the Multnomah County Jail.
While Dahlen was in the holding room, police said a contracted cleaning crew was conducting COVID-19 disinfection in the Central Precinct Detective Division.
The protocol during the pandemic has been to do daily enhanced cleaning and disinfecting to protect suspects who are being held in those rooms, according to PPB.
One of the cleaning crew members opened the door to the holding room, according to officers, then closed it again after they realized the room was occupied.
Investigators believe the door did not fully latch after it was closed. Sometime after the cleaning crew left, detectives believe Dahlen pushed the door from the inside, found it to be insecure, and got out.
Investigators believe Dahlen found his way to a stairwell, which is kept unlocked for fire safety reasons, and exited the building on a south side door.
A few minutes later, detectives went to check on Dahlen and discovered he was gone. The building was locked down and a search began for the suspect. During the search, investigators reviewing video footage found that Dahlen was already out of the building.
An extensive search operation was conducted in the area, but Dahlen was not located.
He remained on the loose Monday and anyone who sees him is asked to call 911.
Investigators said Dahlen was involved in an officer-involved shooting Dec. 24 near Southeast 39th and Powell Boulevard. The case involved two people in a stolen pickup, and investigators said the driver rammed a patrol vehicle and an officer.
Officer Jennifer Pierce, a 15-year veteran with PPB, suffered a fractured pelvis in the crash. Police said Pierce fired a shot during the incident.
PPB released a statement Monday, saying: “As for the method of his escape, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) takes the safety and security of individuals in our custody very seriously. PPB will be doing an after-action, which is a comprehensive internal review of our procedures regarding holding cells. It will contain recommendations for improving those procedures to prevent anything like this from happening again.”