Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
February 20, 2008     The New Era Paper
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February 20, 2008

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Page 8 Your COMMUNITY " ra - February 20, 2008 From page 1 in his pocket. "He motioned to me to stop," Street recalled Monday evening. "I thought that there was a holdup in the store, and he was getting his gun to take care of that." That's when Thompson ordered her to roll down the window. She rolled it down a couple of inches and he told her to roll it down all the way or he'd break through the window. "I realized he Was the person causing problems, and I was going to be in some trouble," Street said. "I rolled down my window. He told me he didn't want to hurt me, but he needed me. He wouldn't hurt me unless needed, but he needed me to help him." Street, a sophomore at Lebanon High School, was in trouble. Thompson's girlfriend, Shirley Coulter, 49, of Brownsville and her two grandchildren, ages 3 and 4, had been in a vehicle with Thompson but escaped into the gas station, locking themselves in the bathroom, before Street arrived, neighbor Donna Gile said she learned from employees. Mueller said three witnesses locked themselves inside the gas sta- tion and reported that Thompson fired a shot in the air when he couldn't get in the station. Lawler was now en route to the gas station, in response to those 9-1-1 calls, when Thompson ordered Street to get out of her car. She told him she didn't want to. She said Thompson had his shot- gun pointed toward her windshield as he leaned into the car. He was calm as he told her again. "I don't want to hurt you. I will. but I don't want to hurt you." Street said. She opened the door and had one foot out when "he grabbed me around the neck with his arm," Street said. He held her tight in the crook of his left arm. and she could feel the shotgun pressed against her back. "As we started walking toward the store, I thought he was going to kidnap me.'? Street said. but they continued on past his vehicle. After that point, "I figured I was just going to die." Street said. It was 1:50 p.m. when Lawler ar2 rived, as calls poured into the Sheriff's dispatch station from neighbors and witnesses reporting that the gunman had taken a girl hostage. Neighbors Gile and Renee Gatch- et had come outside when they heard shots and realized that something was happening at the gas station. Gile, who with her husband Jim own a car wash across the highway from the station, said Lawler's ve- hicle was facing south on Washburn, at' the corner of Highway 228, and that Lawler had his rifle out, across the patrol car. Street said she saw Lawler out- side his car. She recalled Thompson telling the officer, 'Tll shoot her. I want a news crew. I want a helicopter, or I'll shoot her." Still holding onto her, he paced across i'n front of the store. She could still feel the gun to her back, she said. "He shot it, but there was no bullet in the gun. I heard the gun go click," she said. Standing in front of the doors, he pumped the weapon and tried to shoot through them and then tried to break out the glass with the gun, Street said. "He goes, 'Well, it's good I've got more.'" Street said Lawler couldn't get a clear shot through the fuel pumps. Holding on tight enough that Street couldn't get loose, Thompson reloaded his weapon, she said. She kept talking to him. asking him what he wanted, and he kept saying he just wanted his daughter, who was in Salem. "I yelled over to the cop, 'Just get him a news crew,'" Street said, and Thompson changed his hold on her, grabbing her by the back of her pants and breaking her belt. Gatchet and Gile said at that point they heard Lawler yelling,"Drop your weapon;sir. Drop your weapons. No- body has to get hurt here." They both said they heard the sergeant say it at several points during the standoff. Gile said Thompson yelled back, "You drop your (expetive) gun." With the gun pointed at Street, he told her to get on the ground. As she dropped to the ground. "he had the gun to my head," Street said. Lawler got a clear shot with his AR-15 patrol rifle and took it. hitting Thompson, who fell to the ground on the west edge of the station's front door, Mueller and witnesses said. Street said when Thompson Law enforcement officers investigate the scene at a Brownsville gas station Saturday afternoon after a Sheriff's had taken a Crawfordsville teenager hostage. Photo courtesy of Tim Swanson sergeant fatally shot a Brownsville man who dropped to the ground, with a wound me.' I said. 'No. he's not. You're safe to his right side. she could see he was now.'" still breathing. "I thought I was going to die." Gatchet, a graduate student in Street said Monday. "I kept waiting education, who lives across Wash- for the bullet to come into me. It was burn Street from the gas station, said terrifying, and I thought I was going she and herc neighbor were watching to die." when Thonnpson went down. Street She knew from the start that that was "standiing there, kind of like she one or both of them would be shot, was dazed."" - she said. "I started waving my arms and "I figured if I kept talking to him, yelled at her to 'Come here. come it would keep his mind off shooting here.'" Gat:chet said. me." "She sttarted running and another Gatchet said she took Street into shot rang omt. We yelled at her to get her neighbor's home and the neigh- down and s~he got down in the middle bors called Street's parents. Len and of the street." Michelle Street. and helped her calm The s~econd shot was Lawler's down and get a drink. They also called rifle, after Thompson again tried to a crisis response volunteer, who at- point his s;hotgun and fire at the ser- rived shortly after. geant, Muoeller said. Mueller said Lawler, a 10-year Gatchtet's neighbor pulled Street veteran of the Linn County Sheriff's behind a harge oak tree and Gatchet Office. was uninjured. made it ower to her she said. Detectives from the Marion "'She was very scared." Gatchet County Sheriff's Office and Oregon said. "Shoe said 'he's going to kill State Police are investigating the incident, he said. interview the Streets at the Pioneer It was the first shooting by a Villa banquet room, Len Street said. deputy since Cpl. Mark HarmonNicole Street said she feels OK and Deputy Micah Smith shot and talking about the experience. killed 38-year-old Jeffrey Eggiman "I think the only thing that creeps of Silverton, who had abducted his me out is I still have the feeling of the girlfriend's 11 -year-old son and taken gun in my back. I can hear his voice. I him to a logging road near Camp Tad- can picture it, but that'll pass. more. north of Sweet Home. "I think what scares me the most Street said, with certainty, that is thinking of what could've happened Lawler "saved my life, and without if those girls hadn't locked the door him, I'd be dead." (to the station).'" "I know the gas attendants were Michelle Street said she's thank- very sorry they locked the doors when ful for the-"entire Linn County Sher- they came back out after me." she iff's Office." said. "But I'm glad they did." "Deputy Lawler saved her life. She said if they hadn't locked the but they were all amazing.'" doors, she is certain that Thompson There were 30 or 40 of them would have made it inside and the in plain clothes and uniform on the situation would have been much scene. Len Street said. worse. They didn't want Nicole Street The experience made her thinkdriving, her mother said. so one Of about her relationships with others, the deputies drove her car home for she said. her while another followed to give "It's made me open my eyes." him a ride. Street said. "I've gotten into a lot of "I'm very proud of her." Len fights with friends," the kind where Street said. While she was scared, she "you don't want to see them again." kept her head. She's learned it's not a good idea Street said he's trying to look at to hold grudges, Street said.the positives. "You don't know what your last "My daughter came home words to them might be. I never said alive." goodbye to Dad. It's really opened And the employees in the store my eyes to how quickly you can lose were locked in and safe. he added. someone." "I'm very grateful for what Dep- After a weekend of media in- uty Lawler did." Nicole Street said. terviews and thank-you's, including "I'm sorry he had to shoot someone to "a beautiful card" that Gatchet said save me. but I'm glad he saved me. Nicole brought her on Monday, NBC "I just want to say thank you to came to town at 3 a.m. Thursday to everyone that was there for me." City settles employee's suit By Sean C. Morgan a full day, along with any other city Of The New Era management who wish to attend. The city of Sweet Home settled "We regret the events that took a lawsuit with Public Works em= place that gave rise to this lawsuit," ployee Rick Kopf for $175,000. Martin wrote in the letter of apolo- Kopf sued the city for violat- gy. "I apologize for any distress that ing the federal Americans with you experienced as a result of these Disabilities Act and Oregon laws events, and we look forward to hav- prohibiting disability discrimina- ing you remain a valued employee tion. The suit also charged that the of the city of Sweet Home." city retaliated against him for use of "We tried to settle two times the Family Medical Leave Act and before," Martin told The New Era. for using the Workers Compensa- "We're just glad that it's resolved tion system, and we can continue on." Along with the monetary award, "It's something I can live with," the settlement requires the city to Kopf told The New Era. "I appreci- remove all negative documents ate the way that the city manager from Kopf's official personnel file, had apologized to me, and I feel provide a written apology and to that it's sincere. require City Manager Craig Martin, "This was more than a money Maintenance Supt. Pat Wood and issue. It was an issue of right and Public Works Director Mike Adams wrong." to attend Equal Employment Op- He said he didn't want to talk portunity Commission training for about his disability publicly. LEBANON Joseph K. L,+tIW OFFICE " * S ov Phiihp P.C. ,lOsc'ph K. t'hiHiI~s qt'r~'m~" the comlm~rt~t)~ince I ?02 300 Market Street Suite 100 i