Walla Walla, WA
A Washington State Patrol trooper was being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after being shot in the face hours earlier in Walla Walla.
Late Thursday night the Regional Special Investigations Unit released the identity of the trooper, Dean Atkinson Jr., a five-year veteran of the WSP.
WSP Chief John R. Batiste reported just after midnight Friday morning that Atkinson was in stable condition.
Atkinson was rammed by a vehicle about 5:10 p.m. at Myra Road and Poplar Street near Sportsman’s Warehouse, Trooper Sarah Clasen told the Tri-City Herald.
Atkinson then was shot.
He remained conscious and alert and drove himself a little more than a mile and a half down West Poplar Street to Providence St. Mary Medical Center at 401 W. Poplar St.
He was treated there and then flown to Harborview.
Clasen said the WSP had contact with the suspected shooter earlier in the day.
Walla Walla area law enforcement officers responded to the scene of the shooting, said the Special Investigations Unit release.
Several minutes later police officers from Milton Freewater, Ore., tried to stop a car matching the description from the incident. It was reportedly an older, small gray car.
A short pursuit toward the Oregon state line ended on Highway 125 north of Stateline Road.
Brandon Dennis O’Neel, 37, of Walla Walla, was taken into custody there before 6 p.m. and was being held at the Walla Walla County Jail on Friday.
“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,” Batiste said. “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.”
Gov. Jay Inslee posted on Twitter, saying “What an incredible feat of strength.” He said he was sending “thoughts of comfort” to Atkinson.
Batiste thanked the public for an outpouring of support.
“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,” Batiste said.
The Oregon Department of Transportation reported Highway 11 was closed at the Washington and Oregon border as of 6:45 p.m. Thursday for law enforcement activities. Washington Highway 125 becomes Highway 11 at the state line.
Walla Walla Police Chief Chris Buttice requested the assistance of the Regional Special Investigations Unit to conduct the investigation of the incident.
The unit, which covers Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties, does independent investigations of officer-involved shootings.
This story was originally published September 22, 2022 6:16 PM.
Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.