Ex-police officer wanted in 2 killings and kidnapping shoots, kills self in Oregon, police say

SEATTLE (AP) — A former Washington state police officer wanted after killing two people, including his ex-wife, was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a chase in Oregon, authorities said Tuesday. His 1-year-old baby, who was with him, was taken safely into custody by Oregon State Police troopers.

The troopers began chasing the ex-Yakima officer, Elias Huizar, when they saw him driving southbound on Interstate 5 near Eugene, Oregon, at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Oregon State Police Capt. Kyle Kennedy said at a media briefing Tuesday evening that Huizar fled after a trooper tried to pull over his vehicle.

Troopers pursued Huizar's vehicle at high speeds and at one point exchanged gunfire with him, according to Kennedy. The pursuit, over about 25 miles (40 kilometers), ended when Huizar's vehicle hit a commercial vehicle that was stopped on the interstate because of an unrelated crash.

Huizar's vehicle spun and became immobile in the median, and when troopers tried to make contact with him, he shot himself and died at the scene, Kennedy said. The 1-year-old was uninjured and removed from the vehicle, Kennedy said.

He additionally said he didn't believe anyone was hurt during the exchange of gunfire with police.

“All day our thoughts have been how to rescue this young boy and we’re thankful for the outcome that occurred,” Kennedy said.

Huizar went on the run Monday afternoon after killing two people, including his ex-wife, Amber Rodriguez, 31, whom he shot eight times outside a West Richland elementary school in front of their 9-year-old son and other witnesses, police said. Rodriguez had recently obtained a protection order against Huizar.

Rodriguez worked at the school, while Huizar had recently worked as a substitute teacher in the Richland School District, the district confirmed in a Facebook post Tuesday.

Police did not identify the other victim, whose body was found later Monday at Huizar's house, except to say she was Huizar's girlfriend.

According to court records, Huizar, 39, had at least until early this year been living with a 17-year-old girl whom he met when she was 11 and he was a middle school resource officer in Yakima. He impregnated her when she was 15; their baby recently turned 1, Rodriguez wrote in seeking a protection order against Huizar.

The Yakima Police Department said in a Facebook post Tuesday that Huizar left the department in 2021 “after receiving discipline." It did not provide any other information.

In February, the 17-year-old girl reported to police that Huizar sexually assaulted a 16-year-old friend, who had passed out at their house. Huizar was charged with rape of both the teen and her friend. He was out on bail pending trial, authorities said.

Rodriguez wrote in her petition for a protection order that her divorce from Huizar became final last year and that she had not been aware that he was having a relationship with the same teen he had met as a resource officer until he was charged with rape.

She said she feared for the safety of her children and that she would be seeking a modification of their parenting plan. She filed for the modification last Friday, court records show. The protection order was issued in February and was to remain in effect for a year; under it, Huizar was barred from possessing firearms.

The Richland School District said it terminated Huizar's employment following his arrest in February. It said it had received recommendations from the Yakima School District before hiring him in 2022, and that he had passed background checks.

“We are extremely disheartened that information about Mr. Huizar’s past was not disclosed to us through the various processes we have in place to vet RSD candidates for employment,” the district said. “It is the expectation for individuals who apply for employment with RSD to be forthcoming and truthful in their applications.”

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Thiessen reported from Anchorage, Alaska. AP reporter Lisa Baumann contributed from Bellingham, Washington.

04/24/2024 02:44 -0400

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