HAZEL DELL, WA (KPTV) - A man who was shot and killed by deputies in Hazel Dell was armed and “reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies,” said Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins on Friday.
Atkins spoke at a brief press conference Friday about the officer-involved shooting that occurred on the 6800 block of Northeast Highway 99 at around 6 p.m. Thursday.
Atkins said the Clark-Vancouver Regional Drug Task Force was conducting an investigation that led to a foot chase involving 21-year-old Kevin E. Peterson Jr.
The chase went into a bank parking lot, where Peterson reportedly fired at deputies, according to Atkins. The deputies returned fire and Peterson was killed.
“It is my understanding that the man’s firearm was observed at the scene,” Atkins said.
The mother of Peterson’s young child, Olivia Selto, told FOX 12 she had been talking with Peterson on FaceTime in the moments before the shooting happened.
“He is just running, literally just running and I am like, ‘What is going on?,” and he is like… I just couldn’t understand him because he was running,” Selto said.
Selto said she then heard the gunfire.
“There was like over 15 gunshots probably, 10 to 15 gunshots, and he just fell to the ground and I was just like talking to him, ‘Hello, hello, I love you, I love,’” Selto said.
Atkins said he has not yet spoken with the involved deputies, but “I am confident that they are upset at the unfortunate outcome of this encounter. I can say that our agency is grieving as is the Peterson family and the community.”
“It’s important to relate that the loss of a young man’s life likely means there is a grieving father, mother and other family. It is right and correct that the community would grieve along with this family,” according to Atkins.
Atkins pledged that Peterson’s family would be kept updated as much as possible on the investigation.
Atkins said a thorough and independent investigation will reveal “what happened, how it happened and what can be learned from this incident.”
Later Friday evening, further information on the investigation was released on behalf of the Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team with assistance from the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team and Washington State Patrol.
Investigators said a man suspected of selling illegal drugs in the parking lot of the Quality Inn motel was contacted by law enforcement. The man was alone in his vehicle, but ran away from the officers and deputies.
Soon after the foot chase began, the man produced a handgun, and the officers backed off, according to the investigative report.
The report then states the man "encountered three Clark County deputies who all discharged their pistols." During the crime scene investigation, a Glock model 23, 40 caliber pistol was found near Peterson's body, according to investigators.
All involved deputies have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard policy during an officer-involved shooting investigation.
The report Friday evening from the Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team, which was released by the city of Battle Ground, did not state whether Peterson fired a gun at deputies, as had been described by Atkins.
People gathered at the shooting scene throughout the day Friday, some holding signs and demanding answers about the deadly shooting.
A vigil was planned for Peterson on Friday evening. The sheriff asked the community to make sure it is a peaceful event.
“As the community grieves, I call for there to be a respectful and dignified observance of the loss of life in this matter. There is always the potential for misinformation, doubt and confusion – and there may be those who wish to sow seeds of doubt. I insist that we will ALL learn in time what was lawful and/or unlawful, what was proper and/or improper and what we as an agency and community can learn from this matter,” Atkins said.
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