By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Local trooper played key role in standoff

LINCOLN CITY — Adam Kowing of McMinnville’s Oregon State Police office has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation, after ramming an armed Montana robbery fugitive with his patrol car.

That’s standard procedure any time an officer resorts to use of deadly force in the line of duty.

Robbery suspect Dale Edward Wallace, 30, suffered serious injuries when struck by the car. His accomplice, Sara Jo Johnson, 30, shot herself to death afterward, following a lengthy standoff.

The Oregon State Police, Lincoln County Major Crimes Team, Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office and Newport Police Department are handling parts of the investigation. They gave this account:

Authorities tracked the two armed robbery suspects to a Lincoln City condo, where they had holed up with a black Nissan Altima and firearms allegedly stolen en route.

Officers placed the unit under surveillance and followed the pair when they left in the car. When the two pulled off Highway 101 into a parking lot, the officers initiated a high-risk stop.

Wallace fled on foot with a firearm, leaving Johnson, also armed, behind in the stolen Nissan. When officers ordered him to drop his weapon, he turned and pointed it at them, prompting Kowing to hit him with his patrol vehicle.

Wallace was transported to Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City, then transferred to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

He was arrested Tuesday following his release from the hospital, where he was treated for serious injuries. Wallace was lodged at the Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland as a fugitive from justice based upon an outstanding warrant from Montana related to a robbery investigation. The Lincoln County DA’s office is preparing local charges of its own. The county’s major crimes team is working with Montana authorities on both the armed robbery, which occurred in Butte, and its multi-state aftermath.

Officers spent about four hours trying to talk Johnson into surrendering. However, she eventually ended the standoff by taking her own life.

An autopsy conducted Wednesday at the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Clackamas indicated she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. There was no indication any officers had fired on her.

During the standoff, a community center and several businesses were locked down.

Lincoln City Police Chief Keith Killian expressed gratitude for the cooperation provided by the local community.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our citizens during this tense and potentially volatile event as it unfolded in our community,” he said.

Kowing, 26, has been with OSP for five years. He is a member of OSP’s SWAT unit, which was called in to assist with the apprehension.

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