On Saturday, Dec. 18, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Officer Ben Harvey of the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department observed a red Toyota 4-Runner driving erratically.
The vehicle appeared to deliberately avoid contact with the officer, almost lost control as it turned a corner, failed to stop at a stop sign, and drove into oncoming traffic.
Officers Harvey and B-WSPD officer Tony Warren attempted to located the vehicle. A short time later, the same 4-Runner was seen leaving Bridgemart, driving westbound and making an illegal U-turn.
The two officers attempted to stop the vehicle in the area of the Park and Ride on State Route 14, near the Hood River Bridge. The driver of the 4-runner failed to stop, turned on the Hood River Toll Bridge and accelerated rapidly. Officer Warren notified dispatchers of the pursuit heading into Oregon and asked for assistance from the Hood River Police Department.
The 4-Runner crossed the bridge at speeds of 70 miles per hour. It failed to stop at the toll booth, passing through at speeds of 60 miles per hour and continued through the red light at the intersection on the south end of the bridge.
The vehicle continued south on Highway 35, traveling through the stop sign at the Highway 35 intersection at a high rate of speed. The fleeing vehicle nearly hit another southbound vehicle, then slid into a ditch. The suspect exited the vehicle, allegedly with a gun in his possession, and fled on foot in a heavily wooded orchard adjacent to Highway 35.
Within minutes of the incident, officers from the Hood River Police Department, Hood River County Sheriff's Department, Oregon State Police, and B-WSPD officers Harvey and Warren had arrived on scene.
Due to the circumstances of an active pursuit involving a felony crime, Officer Harvey deployed B-WSPD Police K-9, Justice. Officers Harvey and Warren and K-9 Justice continued the foot pursuit up a steep, brushy, snow-covered hillside.
K-9 Justice was able to track, locate and control the suspect, who strongly resisted the control tactics of the canine. The suspect was taken into custody by officers Harvey and Warren and escorted approximately a half mile back to the highway.
In a search, the suspect was found to have methamphetamine in his possession. Marijuana was also found in his vehicle. The suspect was transported to Hood River Providence Hospital, where he was treated for injuries consistent with canine bites.
At the hospital, the suspect admitted to being under the influence of methamphetamine, seeing and hearing lights and sirens of pursuing officers, and attempting to elude the officers. He also admitted to actively resisting the K-9 and strongly striking the dog in an attempt to hurt it.
The suspect was identified as Roberto Larios-Castillo, 30, White Salmon.
Information was also obtained that Larios-Castillo has a pistol in his possession during the pursuit, but the gun was discarded during the foot pursuit. No gun was located by officers at the scene.
Larios-Castillo was booked into NORCOR in The Dalles.
Larios-Castillo will be charged with several crimes in Oregon, including attempting to elude, possession of a control substance (methamphetamine), possession of marijuana, felony assault on the police K-9, resisting arrest and DUII. Similar crimes are also pending in Klickitat County.
"Our police K-9 Justice performed exactly as he has been trained. The use of the K-9 assured the suspect was safely captured and the officers were safe," said officer Harvey. He added, however, that he was very upset the suspect had assaulted his canine partner in an attempt to escape.
Sgt. Jim Andring of the B-WSPD said this case was an ideal example of a justified and even necessary K-9 deployment.
"It was clear that not only was this suspect very intent on getting away, he was apparently under the influence of a strong illegal drug. He was so determined that without the use of our police K-9, he very likely would have assaulted the officers, or maybe even worse," said Sgt. Andring. "I heard about the possibility of a gun involved. When it was all done, I was very relieved to hear that none of our officers and none of the Oregon officers were injured by this suspect."