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Trooper drives himself to hospital after being rammed by vehicle, shot by suspect

Dean Atkinson Jr. remained conscious and alert and drove himself a little more than a mile and a half to a hospital


Washington State Patrol Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr. was airlifted to a Seattle hospital after he was shot and seriously when he confronted a suspect near a Walla Walla intersection.

Washington State Patrol Facebook

By Annette Cary
Tri-City Herald

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — A Washington State Patrol trooper was being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle Thursday night after being shot 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 that Atkinson was in stable condition.

Trooper Sarah Clasen said Atkinson was rammed by a vehicle about 5:10 p.m. at Myra Road and Poplar Street near Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Atkinson then was shot, Clasen said.

The trooper 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 for further care.

Clasen said the WSP had contact with the suspect in the shooting earlier in the day.

Walla Walla area law enforcement responded to the scene of the shooting and secured evidence, according to the Special Investigations Unit.

Several minutes later police officers from Milton Freewater, Ore., attempted 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.

“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.”

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. for law enforcement activities. Washington Highway 125 becomes Highway 11 at the state line.

The highway was expected to be closed for several hours.

Walla Walla Police Chief Chris Buttice requested the assistance of the Regional Special Investigations Unit to conduct the investigation of this 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.

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