The driver shot by Bend Police during a traffic stop Tuesday night may have already killed himself with his own handgun before police fired, authorities said.
The motorist, identified as Timothy Bret Bontrager, 36, of Bend, was pulled over for failing to use his turn signal, according to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel.
Bontrager, who was driving a red Toyota 4Runner, was stopped by Bend Police Officer Timothy Williams at 11:34 p.m. in north Bend. Williams spoke with Bontrager and suspected he was under the influence of intoxicants.
While being questioned by Williams, Bontrager shot himself, an action that apparently prompted Williams to fire into the 4Runner, Hummel said. The exact sequence of events and number of shots fired is still being investigated.
Bend Fire Department responded to the scene, and firefighters found Bontrager dead in the truck holding a handgun.
“There is no doubt that Bontrager did take a gun and fire a round in an effort to take his life,” Hummel said. “It’s sad and important for the public to know that.”
Bend Police Officer Kevin Uballez joined Williams at the scene in the Lowe’s parking lot at Cooley Road and U.S. Highway 97. Uballez, who did not use his gun, approached the 4Runner from the passenger-side window, and Williams approached from the driver’s side.
Williams, 26, has worked as a Bend Police officer since 2015. Before, he was an airman and military police officer in the U.S. Air Force. Uballez, 35, has been an officer with Bend Police since 2014 and previously worked for seven years as an officer with the Olathe Police Department in Kansas.
Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh said Wednesday the two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation led by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
Bontrager lived in Bend since August 2016, when he moved from Texas to be closer to family, Hummel said. He has no criminal history except a misdemeanor marijuana arrest in Texas in 2000.
An autopsy is scheduled Thursday morning at the Oregon State Medical Examiner office in Clackamas.
This was the second time in less than a week that law enforcement officers in Deschutes County were involved in a fatal shooting.
A Deschutes County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Jesse Wayde Powell, 43, on June 20 at a campsite off Century Drive west of Bend.
The Tri-County Major Incident team, comprising law enforcement agencies in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, is investigating both shootings.
Hummel said having two major cases to investigate within such a short time takes a toll on the investigative team.
“Last night on the scene, there were many exhausted officers,” Hummel said Wednesday afternoon. “You see that in their eyes, but what you also see is dedication.”
The Tuesday night incident is also the second fatal shooting in 18 months involving Bend Police officers, and the fifth fatal incident involving law enforcement in Deschutes County since August 2016.
Bend Police Officer Scott Schaier shot and killed Michael T. Jacques, a 31-year-old Bend resident, on Dec. 23, 2016, after pulling him over in downtown Bend because he was said to be driving erratically.
On May 31, 2016, Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Richard Brannin fatally shot Nicholas Berger, 36, of Bend, who had been holding a gift-shop employee at the High Desert Museum at knifepoint.
On Aug. 25, 2016, Redmond Police responded to the area of Canal Boulevard near St. Charles Redmond after receiving reports of a person pointing a handgun at passing motorists. Redmond Police Officer Cory Buckley arrived in his police vehicle and struck the suspect, Michael Gaskill, 63, who died two days later.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com