Police on Thursday, July 29, process evidence at the scene of shooting between the driver of a stolen vehicle and Keizer police officers. The driver sped off, struck and killed a pedestrian and then exchanged gunfire with police in northeast Salem before surrendering. (Keizertimes photo)
A 47-year-old Silverton man is accused of killing a pedestrian in Keizer on Wednesday, July 28 as he fled police in a stolen Nissan Xterra in an indictment issued on Friday, July 30.
Sean K. Beck also is accused of attempted murder of Keizer police officers in an episode that started in Keizer Wednesday evening and ended with a gunfight in the parking lot of Home Depot in northeast Salem.
The Oregon State Police on Saturday identified the pedestrian on Saturday as Becky Dietzel, 64, of Salem.
She was struck and killed in the 4400 block of North River Road in Keizer after police contacted two men in a stolen vehicle several blocks north in the parking are of VCA Keizer Veterinary Hospital.
“I think it’s important to pause and observe that the greatest tragedy in this incident, by far, is the death of Ms. Dietzel. Due to the investigation, I am not at liberty to expound upon her circumstances or their grief,” said Keizer Police Chief John Teague.
Kenny Blount, a witness who saw Dietzel get struck by the vehicle, said that she was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Cummings and River Rd. while the light was red for through traffic.
“That car just plowed that poor woman. I pulled over to the side and got my military first-aid kit. But by the time I got within three feet of her, she was already gone,” Blount said.
According to an earlier police statement, Beck fired at police before driving off. The second man, not yet identified, stayed at the scene and cooperated with police.
Witness video showed police blockading a vehicle at the Home Depot on Northeast Cherry Avenue and the sounds of gunfire could be heard. Police later said Beck surrendered and was taken to Salem Health Hospital for treatment of several gunshot wounds.
“The first thing I heard was pop, pop, pop, pop. You could tell it was coming from the north end of River Road,” said witness Rachel Washburn. “I looked out my window, didn’t see anything. Then there’s more pop pop pop … And then all of a sudden from my bedroom window, I saw a vehicle fly by and a police officer right on his tail.”
Beck remains hospitalized, police said, but information about his condition wasn’t released.
The Marion County District Attorney’s Office on Friday charged Beck for felony crimes of first-degree manslaughter, attempted aggravated murder with a firearm, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, felon in possession of a firearm, failure to perform duties of a driver to injured persons, fleeing a police officer.
He also was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, a misdemeanor, accused of having a blood alcohol level of .15.
The State Police announcement listed Beck as being from Olympia, but he is listed at a Silverton address on the district attorney’s charge.
Court records show Beck was charged in Lincoln City in 2016 for driving with a suspended license. The records show his suspended license listed an Olympia address.
The district attorney’s charging document said that Beck was convicted in 1990 for first-degree robbery in the Spokane, Washington, area.
The Oregon State Police will lead the remainder of the investigation.
The state police on Saturday also identified the Keizer Police Department officers placed on routine administrative leave after the incident as:
Sgt. Kevin DeMarco, with the agency 14 years.
Officer Scott Keniston, with the agency 14 years.
Officer Michael Kowash, with the agency three years.
Officer Jeremy Darst, with the agency three years.
Officer Chad Fahey, with the agency three years.
Officer Cody Stupfel, with the agency one year.
With KeizerFEST taking place this weekend, Teague admitted that the department is feeling fatigued. He does, however, believe that the six officers could possibly be back to work within a week.
“I can tell you that the Keizer Police Department is worn thin. We’re presently in the process of hiring four officers and we’re now entering a late-planned (KeizerFEST) week down six more officers, thus each of us who remain are carrying an additional load. Thankfully, every one of our police officers is mentally and emotionally strong, thus our only hurdle is time. Each of the six is anxious to get back to work, but that won’t happen for a week or more as we run through the standard, time-consuming processes, including grand jury and other, statutorily required events,” Teague said.
Teague also commented on the officers who put their lives on the line to protect the Keizer community.
“It’s notable that we have good, diligent officers, who knowingly entered a dangerous situation and were unexpectedly drawn into a gunfight. The vast majority of police officers serve their whole careers without ever firing a firearm in the course of duty, and for the vast majority of those who have, I’m rather certain that they found it to be surreal, prepared for but nevertheless unexpected. The fact of the matter is that we cops are a lot more like you than we are like whatever stereotype might exist, especially as we hire good, solid, people of character, which all of these men are,” Teague said. “Thank you Kevin DeMarco, Scott Keniston, Michael Kowash, Jeremy Darst, Chad Fahey and Cody Stupfel.”
Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark showed her support and appreciation for Teague, and the entire department during a Keizer City Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 2.
“I know there is a lot you can’t talk about yet, but we just want to make sure that every officer knows how much love has been poured out, and good thoughts, towards you (Teague) and the entire staff as we go through this very difficult time,” Clark said.