Officer Dodds is back on the job one year after Ore. coast shooting
LINCOLN CITY, Ore. - It was a year ago Monday that law enforcement officers from all over Oregon descended on Waldport and Lincoln City to search for the person who shot a local police officer at close range during a traffic stop.
A year later, the suspect remains at large, but the injured officer has since returned to duty after a long recovery.
The incident began when Officer Steven Dodds with the Lincoln City Police Department pulled over a vehicle for speeding about 40 miles north of Waldport. As Officer Dodds approached the driver, he was hit by multiple gunshots.
The suspect, identified as David Anthony Durham, 44, was caught on video driving an SUV at high speed with a trio of police vehicles in hot pursuit down Highway 101. He was not found after abandoning his vehicle and dog near Waldport.
Dodds was rushed to a hospital, gravely injured with multiple gunshot wounds.
Lincoln City Police report Dodds is now back on the job. Durham remains at large and is suspected of shooting at nine other people that night besides Dodds, according to Lincoln City Police.
Dodds endured multiple surgeries during his lengthy recovery process.
"I was a victim for thirty seconds and I have been a survivor since," he said.
Surgeons said most of Dodds' injuries were in his stomach and pelvic area and he had lost a significant amount of blood by the time he was flown to Emanuel Medical Center in Portland following the shooting.
Dodds' surgeons said his high level of physical fitness helped him survive the shooting. Dodds was even able to call in on his radio for help after being shot.
The investigation into the shooting is still focused on locating Durham. There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to his capture and conviction. Even his family called out for him to turn himself in.
Lincoln City police said they get three to five tips a month on the case and they follow up on each one.
Dodds was awarded the Purple Heart by the Oregon Peace Officers Association and received an award for bravery by the maker of the bulletproof vest he was wearing when he was shot.
Police at the time said Durham drove south on U.S. Highway 101 and was spotted and chased by Newport police. Durham allegedly fired several shots at officers.
None of them was hit, but two patrol vehicles and another car were struck by bullets, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings, an Oregon State Police spokesman.
Spike strips were deployed and Durham abandoned his stricken vehicle and fled into the woods. An avid outdoorsman and survivalist according to those who knew him, he was able to escape capture. His dog, however, was later found injured and was cared for.
SWAT teams searched the area house by house for Durham while other crews combed Alsea Bay after reports someone had fired at boaters there. But they found nothing.
Durham never showed up at home, hasn't contacted family, hasn't been sighted recently and hasn't tried to access any of his money since the night of the shooting.
"A lot of assumptions are that somehow he's passed away one way or another," said Capt. Jim Kusz of North Lincoln Search and rescue says Durham might have drowned trying to swim part of Alsea Bay.
"Especially if somebody's swimming with boots and clothes and perhaps carrying some firearms or something like that - being weighed down - the odds of them making a successful attempt would be slim," he said.
And with only about a 50-50 chance of a body being found in circumstances like that Durham's fate remains as murky as the coastal waters of Oregon near where he disappeared.
Press release from Lincoln City Police:
This January 23rd will mark one year since Lincoln City (LCPD) Police Officer Steven Dodds was shot and seriously wounded during a late evening traffic stop in 2011.
Officer Dodds has demonstrated remarkable resilience and courage in overcoming life threatening injuries and has recently returned to his patrol duties. His reactions that night combined with the valiant and professional efforts of his Patrol Sergeant, the other on-duty LCPD members, and the outstanding emergency medical personnel in Lincoln City and Portland not only saved his life but also paved the way for his recovery. Officer Dodds and LCPD remain ever grateful for those efforts.
Officer Dodds has worked tirelessly to recover and get back on patrol, performing the duties and doing the work he loves serving the Lincoln City community. He has been recognized for his valor and courage by several organizations, including receiving the Purple Heart from the Oregon Peace Officers Association.
When asked how he felt when this happened, he responded by saying "I was a victim for thirty seconds and I have been a survivor since." He has no desire to be in the limelight and is trying to put this event behind him while getting back to as normal of a life as possible. He has been very humbled by the overwhelming support of his community and fellow officers.
Officer Dodds was shot by the driver of a vehicle that he had stopped on Highway 101 at the south end of Lincoln City for a speed violation. The shooter, who has been identified as David Durham, fled the scene shooting at bystanders as he continued southbound on Highway 101.
Durham led officers from Newport Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff's Department on a high speed chase through Newport, continuing to shoot at trailing police vehicles as he fled until his vehicle was disabled by spike strips deployed by an off-duty Lincoln County deputy near Waldport.
Durham fled on foot and allegedly shot at boaters on Alsea Bay as he tried to escape. Durham is suspected of shooting at nine other people besides Officer Dodds. An extensive manhunt was conducted with the help of numerous agencies, but Durham has never been found.
LCPD, OSP and the FBI continue the investigation and all three agencies followed up on separate tips this past week. The FBI has a $10,000 reward posted for information leading to Durham's arrest.
Every month, LCPD receives tips from all over Lincoln County. Tips come from multiple sources that include direct calls to our office from possible witnesses, calls from other law enforcement agencies, and tips from America's Most Wanted. Each are followed up on as they come in.
Tips and information received from local sources are followed up primarily by the lead investigators assigned to the case from LCPD and the OSP Newport office. Tips from other states have been followed up on by the F.B.I. These tips have been from all over the country, from Hawaii to the East Coast. LCPD and OSP investigators are in touch with the FBI weekly continuing to work on this case.
Approximately one hundred tips have been received since the manhunt started, and between 3 to 5 tips still come in each month. LCPD appreciates each and every one, not only from the general public but also from law enforcement officers who call with information.
There has not been one confirmed sighting of David Durham since January 24, 2011 when he was last seen running up the beach towards the Bay Shore subdivision in Waldport. While fleeing on foot it is believed Durham also shot at two men crabbing in the Alsea Bay.
Due to the hard work and assistance from other law enforcement agencies, we have been able to confirm that the many reported sightings were positively not David Durham. There are some reported sightings that cannot be confirmed either way. Some tips are vague and anonymous with no way of contacting the caller for more information.
The fact there have been no sightings or confirmed information that he has been at a particular location after that night indicates there is a possibility that Durham could be deceased. However, LCPD has no evidence that he is deceased and will continue this investigation until we find him or his remains.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner's office will examine the remains of any unknown human recovered along the Oregon area beaches and elsewhere for the possibility of identifying Durham. This has been done previously but none of the examinations conducted of human remains found along the Oregon beaches over the last year has resulted in a positive identification as Durham.
Durham is entered into criminal data bases as a wanted person/fugitive and as a missing and endangered person. This will help if he is deceased and his unidentified remains were located in another state, making identification possible for authorities in those jurisdictions.
Last January, Durham was put on the U.S. Border Patrol and Custom's watch list as well as the Canadian Border patrol watch list in case he tried to cross one of our borders. There have been no reported crossings or attempted crossings.
Since the night of the shooting, law enforcement has monitored Durham's residence for several months and there is no evidence that he ever returned to that location. There is also no evidence indicating he has been at any other particular location after the night of the shooting.
After OSP SWAT and other assisting agencies ended their search of the Waldport area, the Lincoln County Search and Rescue team brought in cadaver K-9's and conducted a sweep of the vicinity. No human remains were found.
Investigators are still hopeful that Durham will be located. They will not give up the search until he is found. Investigators encourage anyone that sees David Durham or has information regarding his whereabouts to please contact the Lincoln City Police at 541-994-3636, their local police or the FBI.