A police officer is shot in broad daylight. Detectives Dan and Dave respond.
(Part 1) The murder of Officer Chris Kilcullen, in broad daylight, devastated the community he served. Our own Detective Dan was the first to arrive on scene and tend to him, while the armed suspect fled, leading multiple law enforcement agencies in a treacherous, high-speed chase up a remote logging road. Where the road dead-ends, a tense standoff commences and our own Detective Dave steps in as the crisis negotiator. In this two-part episode, Detective Dan reflects on the worst day of his law enforcement career alongside Chris’ widow, Kristie, and Chris’ former lieutenant, and partner, who remember the kind of man and police officer he was.
Ret. Officer Risko
Risko is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan and was born and raised in Chicago, Il. Prior to becoming a police officer, he served 3 years as a paratrooper in the US Army. After leaving the Army, Risko became a police officer and his career in law enforcement spanned nearly 30 years. During that time he worked on patrol, as a FTO, narcotics detective, and motorcycle officer. He was also a member of the SWAT team. He served an additional 8 years as a member of the National Guard while working as a full time police officer. Risko is a member of the Peer Support Team which offers assistance to people in law enforcement after critical/traumatic incidents. Risko has a master scuba diver rating, has assisted in scuba instruction, and volunteered at a coastal aquarium, an activity he enjoyed with his best friend and work partner, Chris Kilcullen. He’s married and has 3 adult children.
Lt. Bills recently retired after serving her community for over 25 years. She has worked on patrol, bike patrol, Crowd Control-Bike Officer, background investigations, and as a crisis negotiator. Bills volunteered for her department’s Honor Guard and served for 10 years. She was eventually promoted to Sergeant and then Lieutenant which saw her supervising Special Operations, Investigations, and serving as a Watch Commander. In addition to her supervisory roles, she served as the Crisis Negotiation Team Sergeant for 4 years. Bills graduated from the FBI National Academy and the Senior Management Institute of Policing. She is married to a wonderful woman and they have a son who became a police officer. Her hobbies include playing ice hockey, ski patrol, and all things two-wheeled (bicycles & motorcycles.
Lt. Bills feels most privileged to have been asked to be the family liaison to Kristie Kilcullen after Chris Kilcullen’s murder.
For more information on the Chris Kilcullen Memorial Scholarship Fund, please go to www.oregonstudentaid.gov.Read Transcript
Yeardley [00:00:13] When a serious crime is committed in a small town, a handful of detectives are charged with solving the case. And Yardley and I’m fascinated by these stories. So I invited my friends, Detectives Dan and Dave, to help me gather the best true crime cases from around the country and have the men and women who investigated them tell us how it happened.
Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:00:39] I’m Dan. And I’m Dave. We’re identical twins from Smalltown USA. Dave investigated sex crimes and crimes against children. He’s now a patrol sergeant at his police department. Dan investigated violent crimes. He’s now retired. Together, we have more than two decades experience. And I’ve worked hundreds of cases. We’ve altered names, places, relationships and certain details in these cases to maintain the privacy of the victims and their families. So we ask you to join us in protecting their true identities as well as the locations of these crimes. Out of respect for everyone involved. Thank you.
Yeardley [00:01:21] Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dave.
Det. Dave [00:01:27] Good morning.
Yeardley [00:01:28] Good morning. And we have Detective Dan.
Det. Dan [00:01:31] Good morning.
Yeardley [00:01:31] Good morning. Dan is bringing us a case today that we’ve alluded to before. It’s about the murder of Officer Chris Kilcullen. And we have made the decision in this episode to say his full name because it’s important to all of you here today who have been personally touched by this murder that Chris is never forgotten. And also, in so doing, we mentioned locations in this episode. So with that, Dan, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit who Chris was in law enforcement.
Det. Dan [00:02:07] So Chris Kilcullen worked for our neighboring agency, Eugene Police Department. And Chris Kyle Collins’ name resonated through local law enforcement because he had this reputation that he was the nicest cop ever. And it made him famous. Everybody knew who Chris was. I knew his face. I had never met the man. But I was aware of who Chris Kilcullen was.
Yeardley [00:02:34] And Dan, this is a case that you said you would never talk about until everybody who has been closely affected by it was also present and ready to talk about it. And today is that day.
Det. Dan [00:02:50] Correct. This is a case that Dave and I were both pretty heavily involved in, although we had quite different roles at the beginning of it. We ended up next to each other as really important day in my career and my life now, worst day of my life. So here we go.
Yeardley [00:03:11] So today we have Kristie, who is Chris’s widow.
Kristie [00:03:16] Good morning.
Yeardley [00:03:17] Good morning. And we have retired Lieutenant Bills, who was Chris’s colleague, from Chris’s police agency.
Lieutenant Bills [00:03:27] Yeah. Hello.
Yeardley [00:03:28] Thank you for being here. And we have Officer Risko, who is Chris’s partner at his police agency.
Officer Risko [00:03:34] Glad to be here.
Yeardley [00:03:35] Thank you for coming.
Det. Dave [00:03:36] Welcome, guys.
Det. Dan [00:03:37] All of you and Kristie. I didn’t want to talk about this case until I knew that you were on board. And I know today is not going to be easy for you.
Kristie [00:03:49] Yeah. So I want to talk about Chris. I welcome talking about Chris was very important to me. And it still is to make Chris proud. Let’s talk about him. I love it. It keeps him alive.
Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:04:03] He was just one of those names that every cop, even if you didn’t know him, you’d heard of him. And I know how well he was respected and how much is coworkers enjoyed working with him. He’s the type of traffic cop that we’ll give you a ticket and then you end up calling the police department to tell the police. Thank you. And how nice your officer is, honest to God. Absolutely. That was his reputation. Everyone liked him.
Yeardley [00:04:29] That’s so cool. So Dan and Dave, tell us how this case came to you.
Det. Dan [00:04:36] It was April 22nd, 2011, and I was working swing shifts, so that was three to midnight and I was on patrol. So as Dave we were on the same shift, which I enjoyed because we had like four out of five days. We worked together.
Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:04:51] It’s kind of nice because, you know, we share a boat. So we try to match up our weekends so we could maximize leisure and recreation activities on our weekends.
Yeardley [00:05:01] Nothing to do with being able to watch each other’s back.
Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:05:04] Well, it’s that, too. But primarily it was the boat. Yeah. So I was pretty close to the station, actually, just starting my shift. I’m driving toward a freeway highway 126, slash one oh five. So I five actually separates our town from our neighboring agency. I’m about a mile from I-5 and I’m northbound when I hear on the radio from the neighboring agency that a motorcycle officer is in pursuit of a vehicle.
Police Radio [00:05:34] Station one units for information Eugene PD unit is involved, a pursuit East bound 105 from the Parkway standby for further.
Det. Dan [00:05:43] So the beginning of that radio traffic, you hear our dispatch air that Eugene PD is in pursuit of someone on the freeway heading east into our city through Springfield. And the next thing you hear is Officer James, who’s now Detective James. James rightly says, I’m clear and I’m heading that way. And then everybody that’s working that day hears that over the radio. I was right next to the dispatcher when she said that I was scheduled to have a ride along that day.
Det. Dan [00:06:15] So I was in dispatch just waiting for that person to show up at the station. And I ran out to my car from the station and started heading east, trying to anticipate where I could intercept us.
Det. Dan [00:06:26] And that’s just a mile and a half, two miles from the police station. So I remember knowing, OK, if I go get up on the freeway, I’m going to parallel them going down our main street, going eastbound. Thinking at some point that freeway comes back to Main Street and maybe I can get ahead of them.
Yeardley [00:06:44] So, you know, already from this message, from your dispatch that the neighboring agency has tried to perform a traffic stop and the person they tried to perform a traffic stop on has taken off. Correct. OK. And that’s all you know.
Det. Dan [00:06:58] That’s all we know. And in this situation, it’s afternoon rush hour traffic heading out into the east part of our town, which is largely residential neighborhoods. That’s where everyone is returning from work to go home. And this is a Friday. It was the first nice day of the year we’d had in April.
Det. Dave [00:07:19] The traffic is going to be sick and pursuits are pretty rare. If you think about the number of traffic stops that police officers in our small little town do per day, we don’t get a car chase every day. So a pursuit, it’s a felony to elude the police by vehicle in our state and pursuits are dangerous. And you also don’t know what are they running for.
Det. Dan [00:07:44] So we need to get police officers in places where we can block intersections. So we’re not having this person who’s running from Officer Kilcullen possibly striking another vehicle. And now we’ve got a mess. So we’re trying to get in a position where we can mitigate issues like collisions. We can get spike strips out to put an end to this pursuit.
Police Radio [00:08:07] Twenty two is clear. Could I try and setup spikes on there? Confirmed.
Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:08:11] So you heard there was an officer saying he wants to set up spikes and dispatch says, go ahead and do that. Yeah, he gives a location.
Det. Dan [00:08:21] And I recognize I’m actually pretty close to that. I was about a quarter of a mile away from the onramp to that freeway. There are going to be probably a mile and a half, two miles ahead of me. I can make up that distance pretty quick if traffic cooperates. Right.
Yeardley [00:08:39] And that’s a two lane freeway in each direction, as I recall. Correct. And if somebody is in the left lane and somebody in the right lane, there is nowhere to go yet.
Det. Dan [00:08:47] There’s nowhere for me to go. And especially if there’s nobody in the right lane. The reason why we don’t go over to the right lane to get around you is because by law, when I have my lights on, you’re supposed to go to the right. So if I start to weave around them and then they comply with the law and get over, we might collide. So I stay in the left lane. I need you to get over to the right lane. There are some situations where you weave around somebody, but for the most part, your responsibility is driver. When I come behind you with emergency lights is to move over to the right in yield to me.
Yeardley [00:09:21] Right.
Det. Dan [00:09:22] The reason why you don’t hear me on the radio is because I was scanning EPD Station. I’m listening to updates from Officer Chris Kilcullen, motorcycle officer. What I know is. That he was riding home eastbound on the freeway. And this car, this maroon skylark, had swerved at him trying to knock officer Chris Kilcullen off of his bike. And they take off.
Yeardley [00:09:50] So they never stop. On the side of the road.
Det. Dan [00:09:52] They never stopped. And the chase is on.
Det. Dave [00:09:56] It’s well-known in our world, police world. At the end of your shift. Put your blinders on. Because you’re inevitably going to see something that’s going to make you work two hours extra overtime.
Kristie [00:10:06] Yeah. And I had told him that morning. Put your blinders on. When you come home. Because we had planned all week that he would go to work early that day. So he’d come home early that day so we could go for a bike ride. We had two girls. And so I had work that day and then went pick them up from daycare and had them home waiting for him. I mean, the girls were in our back deck. We live about 20 minutes away from Chris’s agency. And like every law enforcement spouse, I had my cell phone by me as part of motors you’re expected to ride your motorcycle to and from work. And your day starts when you hit the saddle and it ends when you pull in and get off the saddle. So I asked me, put his blinders on, because often he would be driving home and see something expired tags or something, and he’d pull them over and then, you know, we’d be late to doing whatever it is we had. And I really want to go for a bike ride it was gorgeous day. And so I’m like, put on your blinders when you come home. OK, OK.
Det. Dave [00:11:06] This is kind of a window into the type of person. Officer Chris Kilcullen is his goal that day, like any other day, is just to drive home after work, be with his family. And here we have a situation where he’s like, I can’t let that go. In good conscience, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I allowed that person to continue driving today. So he makes a decision on chasing that person.
Det. Dan [00:11:30] Right. So I’m code three and lights and sirens and cars won’t get out of the way for me. And I remember one woman who is in front of me. I came up behind her. She slowed down to about 45 miles an hour. And I was hitting my air horn, which is really loud. Plus, I’ve got my siren on and all I remember is the silhouette that I saw from behind was she put her hands up like.
Yeardley [00:12:01] She’s throwing my hands. Like, what do you want me to do?
Det. Dan [00:12:02] What do you want me to do? And I’m motioning with my hands because she’s looking in the rearview mirror. I’m like, get over. Get out of the way. I need to get out of the way. It was probably about 15 seconds to finally get over. It was infuriating.
Det. Dave [00:12:18] Even when I’m in a police car, I see emergency lights coming. I pull off to the side even though I’m like I’m an emergency vehicle, I still pull off to the side of the road.
Det. Dan [00:12:29] If you think about an officer in pursuit on a motorcycle, he’s not in a police car. I already know that this person’s tried to knock him off the bike. So there’s some urgency there. I want to get there so he can take number two in the pursuit. And I’ll take over.
Yeardley [00:12:45] By number two you mean you’ll be out front and Chris can drop back to the number two position behind you?
Det. Dan [00:12:52] Yeah, because at least I’ve got some protection. If he falls off his bike, gone seventy five eighty eighty five miles an hour, that’s not going to be good. So I continue on. I’m still listening to the radio traffic.
Police Radio [00:13:04] Sounds like they take fifty second street correction. They’re still on 105 and fifty second there’s a red light.
Yeardley [00:13:11] Does the driver stop at the red light.
Det. Dan [00:13:13] Yeah, they come to a stop at this intersection and all of a sudden I’m not hearing updates anymore. I’m not hearing any updates from Chris.
Det. Dan [00:13:24] There’s times where you get no updates. Dispatchable. Do you like a status check on an officer and say, you know, two out of twelve update and it’s radio silence? If they do that two or three times and there’s no update. I started thinking the worst. Like, oh, shit. That officer is unable to even access his microphone to air information over the radio. So I remember at that point I was not scared, but I was like, this is bad.
Police Radio [00:13:52] Last we heard was fifty second at the red light.
Det. Dan [00:13:55] You know, I finally get past this person who wouldn’t yield to me. And as I come through these S curves that are kind of a landmark in our area, it’s kind of a location that we give out. If we’re doing traffic stops on the freeway, we’ll say I’m in the S curves. As I come through these S curves, the road turns south. It’s a big, long straight away. As I exit those S curves, I look in traffic is backed way up almost to the S curves, which is completely out of the norm, even for heavy traffic.
Yeardley [00:14:32] Both lanes?
Det. Dan [00:14:33] Both lanes back all the way up. Hundreds of cars.
Det. Dan [00:14:37] There’s nowhere for me to go. Traffic is at a dead stop. People aren’t going to be able to move over because there’s just no room. So I begin driving on the right shoulder of the road. So, you know, I’ve got two wheels on the pavement and I’ve got two on the gravel. And my car is kind of tilted to the side because of the angle there. And I’ve got my siren on. I’m probably going 25 miles an hour. I’ve slowed way down.
Police Radio [00:15:01] Do you have triple sams setup at Main and 105?
Yeardley [00:15:06] What’s that? Triple Samms?
Det. Dan [00:15:08] Triple slams are spikes. Spike strips.
Police Radio [00:15:11] Vehicles should be a maroon skylark.
Police Radio [00:15:16] I got a Red Buick Skylark Southbound on bostrop going pretty fast, passing people.
Det. Dan [00:15:21] That’s Officer Now Detective James, who had left his traffic stop when he heard from our dispatch that there’s a pursuit heading in his direction. He leaves his traffic stop and then just goes a few blocks and waits because he’s waiting to hear the next update. And we’re not getting any updates. So he wisely just sat in place. And in speaking to him, he just went up to the next major intersection where this freeway ends. And he just sat there with the lights and sirens on, looking in the direction where this pursuit should be coming at him. And he all he sees is one vehicle. No other traffic. And it’s a maroon Buick Skylark. He starts asking for the license plate of the involved vehicle and confirms this is the vehicle that was involved in the pursuit. There is no motor officer pursuing anymore. So Detective James initiates a pursuit and the pursuit heads southbound out of the city and heads out towards the more rural area of our county. At that point, it’s just James chasten suspect.
Det. Dan [00:16:30] It’s interesting. That day James had a civilian rider with him.
Yeardley [00:16:34] Oh, my God.
Det. Dan [00:16:35] And it was a woman who was in our civilian police academy here at our police department. And it’s kind of the Holy Grail on a ride along to get in a pursuit.
Yeardley [00:16:43] Sure.
Det. Dan [00:16:44] So when you do, you’re like, oh, my God. Hit the lottery. So James recalls that this woman was very excited. Before we understood the gravity of the situation, the circumstances. But most civilians don’t understand the radio traffic that’s going around this. It just sounds like sounds to him.
Yeardley [00:17:01] And he would hear that in an earpiece. So his rider wouldn’t necessarily get that over the radio.
Det. Dan [00:17:06] Would come over the radio, too, like we have an earpiece. But we also have a speaker inside the vehicle. So you can hear these radio updates so they might not recognize everything you pick up. It’s kind of like a foreign language. You might pick up a few words if you’re not fluent in it.
Det. Dan [00:17:21] But James is dealing with this giddy rider in his passenger seat giving updates. And James was totally calm. You’ll hear him on the radio traffic. He’s really calm and poised and the rest of us are trying to catch up.
Police Radio [00:17:37] It looks like a white female adult. 65 70 wearing in a black shirt, heavy built, brown hair. Black shirt, heavy build, brown hair. There was possibly a gunshot heard, they don’t know where it came from. This is at the scene of the accident. Just for info they are not sure if the suspect vehicle shot. Copy. Continuing 65 70.
Yeardley & Nick Smitty [00:18:11] Hey, small town fam. Guess you have with me. Alright you can’t guess. I have the real Nick Smitty. What’s up, what’s up? So Nick Smitty and I both have cats. I have Zipper and Petunia. And you had Cheap Play. This is true. I do. And now they’re all home, all the time during our pandemic’s summer. My cats follow me around the house like two dogs. What about you?
Nick Smitty [00:18:33] Mine just insists that I brush her in her drawer every day.
Yeardley [00:18:37] It’s actually your drawer.
Nick Smitty [00:18:38] Well, it’s her drawer now, so she’s taken it over.
Yeardley & Nick Smitty [00:18:40] Indeed. That’s how cats are. And because it’s summer, as we know, the litter box can be stinky. I concur. So let’s talk litter. Less dog, pretty litter.
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Police Radio [00:20:21] Officer down, five two and Main. Officer down at five two and main.
Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:20:24] People have begun calling nine one one and that’s how we got the officer down call. It wasn’t from Chris. It was from a civilian. And we’re behind the curve because nine one one calls take a while for him to actually catch up to us. There’s a delay and a lot of stuff happens in 10 seconds. You can pick up from dispatch and the differing locations about how chaotic this is that we are hearing 52 and 105 and then officer down at 52 and Main, which is different. They do intersect, but they don’t intersect here.
Yeardley [00:21:04] What do you mean?
Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:21:06] So there is an intersection of 52 and Main in our city. But you’ve got to traverse some side streets, residential neighborhood neighborhoods to get to 52 and main. So it’s the civilian probably who’s giving the incorrect location. It’s 52 and main when they mean 52, a 105.
Det. Dan [00:21:25] In my mind, I had already said I’ve got to get to 52 and Main.
Yeardley [00:21:29] Because 52 and Main comes after the intersection of 52 and 105.
Det. Dan [00:21:34] Yeah. And then all of a sudden, as I’m clearing past these cars on the shoulder of the road, I’m presented with this circumstance in front of me. And I just have I’m you know, I’m embarrassed to say that I just wasn’t ready for it.
Det. Dan [00:21:49] I heard 52 in Main. So when I got to fifty two and 105, I wasn’t expecting to find Chris there.
Yeardley [00:21:59] Oh, I see.
Det. Dan [00:22:00] It was like, what? What is this?
Yeardley [00:22:02] This is it, right?
Det. Dan [00:22:03] Yeah, it’s supposed to be over 52 and Main.
Yeardley [00:22:06] Which is how far from 52 and 105.
Det. Dave [00:22:09] Five minutes.
Yeardley [00:22:10] But your expectation is I’m not there yet. And then all of a sudden you’re met with this scene that you go, oh, no, no, this isn’t this can’t be it.
Det. Dan [00:22:19] Yeah. As I’m make myself around these cars on the shoulder, as I. I get to the intersection. I see. Chris’s motorcycle standing up with its kickstand down and I see just to the left of his motorcycle is a flatbed semi, big rig trailer on it. And Chris is laying on his back. His head is right by one of the rear tires of the trailer of the semi, and his left leg is down on the ground. He’s flat on his back in his right leg, is still hung up on the motorcycle like he was dismounting that he fell in the process. Yeah. And hadn’t moved since. The other thing that I notice is that his gun is holstered. His gun is not in his hand. It seemed like things were in fast forward for me. And I pride myself on being prepared. And I was not prepared for this.
Police Radio [00:23:27] Come out with a motor officer we’re at 52 and 105 he’s pinned under a truck. Copy 52 and one oh five pinned under attack.
Det. Dave [00:23:34] That radio traffic right there is Dan. Eleven, is his designator that day, and he’s just now pulling up to the scene. So now we’ve got multiple scenes. Right. And Dan, I don’t know if I’ve ever asked you this, but when you pulled up at that point, we’ve got information that there was a shot, possibly a shot fired at that scene at 52 and 105. Were there people out of their cars? I mean, I know your focus is on Chris. But what’s the scene like?
Det. Dan [00:24:07] There were a handful. I don’t know, five to no more than 10 people that were standing on the shoulder of the road. So these people are standing on the side of the road. As I pull up, I go running over to Chris. And a lot of people are yelling different things at me. She went that way. I hear a ton of stuff. But my again, my focus is on Chris at this point. Nobody is over with Chris. Nobody was over with Chris at this point. And. So I went over to Chris and brought his leg down off of the motorcycle. And what I’m looking at is I think that Chris fell off his motorcycle. But it’s not making sense to me because I’m like the bike is on its kickstand. He didn’t crash. He didn’t crash his motorcycle his bike is on it’s kickstand. And there wasn’t a whole lot of room right there. So I had to push Chris’s motorcycle.
Det. Dan [00:25:11] Heavy as fuck.
Det. Dan [00:25:14] It was it was big, like, I mean, I don’t ride motorcycles, but it’s a big piece of machinery and I had to move this thing, so I had room to attend to Chris.
Police Radio [00:25:29] He’s not pinned. He’s on his back. Code three medics, obviously. Copy they have them in route.
Det. Dan [00:25:36] So that was me updating, I remember a lot of different voices coming from behind me. And, you know, is one of the hard things for me in dealing with this event is I feel like I made some mistakes really early on.
Yeardley [00:25:56] How do you mean?
Det. Dan [00:25:57] Maybe not recognizing some things? Or maybe I missed something or someone actually told me something that day and I didn’t hear it. All right. Disregarded it because I was so focused on what the hell happened. What am I looking at? This doesn’t make sense to me because I didn’t see any blood. I didn’t see any holes in his shirt. He just looked like he was asleep on the ground with his right foot up on his motorcycle.
Yeardley [00:26:27] Was he wearing a vest?
Det. Dan [00:26:28] He was wearing a vest. We all wear vests. And, you know, at first it looked like his head was pinned under this trailer of this big tractor trailer rig. That’s when I first saw it as I got up closer to Chris. I could see that that wasn’t the case. He was just really near that wheel.
Det. Dan [00:26:47] There’s really, really underprepared for this, and that’s a lot of the guilt that I deal with even today. Obviously, I haven’t heard this radio traffic in seven or eight years. And it’s this is really difficult for me.
Yeardley [00:27:04] Yes.
Det. Dan [00:27:06] Shortly after that, my old field training officer from when I was a a newbie. Officer Ro, she arrived and we started evaluating Chris. We have several witnesses and it’s chaos. It’s chaos at the scene with this officer down on the ground. There are motorists who are out of their cars and they’re all screaming different stuff. One person says he got shot, but I’m looking at Chris and there’s no blood. I don’t see any holes in his uniform. And I’m like, where? I don’t see where he got shot. Right. We start doing CPR on him and we remove his vest.
Det. Dan [00:27:47] And that’s the first time that I saw the wound. There’s a bullet hole on the right side of his torso, underneath his armpit, just above where his vest would be, probably an inch above.
Yeardley [00:28:04] Oh no.
Det. Dan [00:28:05] We’ve talked about that wound on on this podcast before. That does it. That’s probably one of the worst places to get shot is right in that area, especially depending on the trajectory if it’s going to transverse your whole chest cavity. I knew he was in trouble. And the panic. I mean, I was completely panicked because I did not want to fail. I didn’t want to fail Chris and my brothers and sisters that worked for Eugene and I knew Chris was married. That’s the one, like. Just if I could ever save one life. Could it please be this one.
Det. Dan [00:28:44] I felt so bad at that point that I’ve wasted 15 or 20 seconds not finding this bullet hole. I know it’s messed up. These are the things you think about after after all these years. I was so afraid to fail. I was so, I didn’t want to fail.
Det. Dan [00:29:12] And while I was working on him. You know, I’ve talked about this in the Mother’s Day episode, and obviously every time I talk about this case. This is what I become. And I’m glad it hurts because it means that I care.
Det. Dan [00:29:34] I just didn’t want to fail.
Det. Dan [00:29:40] And I guess he works while, while I was working on him? I could watch the color drain out of him. And I knew that he was, that he was dying.
Police Radio [00:29:52] Station eleven our officer here does have a gunshot wound. CPR in progress on the officer. Copy.
Det. Dave [00:30:01] That is the moment that changed everything for me in this pursuit. When you’re doing CPR, that person is not breathing. And there’s no pulse. They are dead.
Yeardley [00:30:12] And you. Can you bring it back to life?
Det. Dave [00:30:14] Right. Kind of trying to overcome God. And to hear your brother on the other end of the radio giving that. Was the worst moment. My police career, I was punching the ceiling of my police car, trying to get it out. God damn it. This person just killed a police officer with the hope. I hope CPR works, and I had that moment for maybe 10 or 15 seconds. And then. It was business again, and I’m back in it. Let’s go let’s catch up to this person, because now I know that our rules of engagement have completely changed.
Police Radio [00:31:03] CPR in progress. Code three medics to 52 and 105. Affirmative they’re in route. Hold up, they’re just pulling up now.
Det. Dan [00:31:09] When the medics showed up and we’d been working on Chris for a little while and a civilian had come over to assist, she had. She was a health care professional. I want to say she was a nurse in the E.R. So she had experience dealing with trauma. And if she was standing in front of me today, I wouldn’t know what she looks like. But. Thank you. Thank you for being there. When the medics when the fire department arrived, they worked on Chris. But then they scooped him up pretty quick and they put him on a gurney and took off to the hospital. And I’m thinking, OK, he’s going to be OK because the medics have him in there on the way to the hospital. He’s gonna be OK. And ugh, by then, detectives started arriving. And Eugene, police department officers have started arriving in our location. Detective Justin had shown up and I’m listening to the radio traffic that James is giving out. And eventually Dave and Justin came up to me and he said, you and your brother know those roads where this pursuit is going better than any of us. He said, I will stay here. You go catch up to that pursuit. And that’s all I needed to hear.
Det. Dave [00:32:56] Hey there. This is Detective Dave. Your favorite brother and co-host of Small Town Dicks. When we started this podcast a few years back, it gave us a chance to tell the true stories of Small-Town detectives and celebrate the good work they do. Now, the show is just getting better. I want to thank all of you for listening and to ask for your support. We’d love you to become a patron for a small donation. Just five dollars a month. The price my brother pays for a pumpkin spice latte. You can join our small town superfan and help us cover the costs of our production staff, our travel, and maybe buy a golf ball that Dan will use for about three holes before he loses it. You’ll get access to suspect interviews behind the scenes banter and other cool stuff. You can find our Patreon on at https://patreon.com/smalltowndickspodcast. Whatever you decide, I want to thank you for listening. We can’t do this without you.
Det. Dan [00:34:17] So Officer Ro, stayed behind. And I drove like a bat out of hell trying to catch up to this pursuit.
Yeardley [00:34:25] How far behind Rio?
Det. Dan [00:34:27] Miles, he’s probably 15 minutes behind us. But, you know, I’m here in all these roads that James is calling out while he’s updating this pursuit and it’s giving me an idea of, OK, if they’re going 80 miles an hour and they’re at this road, there’s going to be some crazy driving because I know how much ground I have to make up. And this is not a straight stretch.
Det. Dave [00:34:50] While all this other stuff is going on miles away where Dan and Roe and Justin are, my mind’s on my brother. Who, I just heard say that he was doing CPR on a police officer, and the other part is I want to catch up to James in this pursuit because we need to arrest this person. We need to get this person off the street.
Det. Dan [00:35:19] So James is there with this right along. James Letter tells the story that as this situation grows more and more tense during this pursuit, as more information is coming out, that this civilian rider with him is starting to realize, oh, shit, this is bad. And James tells the story as if he’s trying to also take care of his rider, like take deep breaths, like calm down, do you want air conditioning on or do you want your window down? I need to keep the windows up because there’s so much dust coming up from this pursuit and it’s too loud with the wind. But you want me to turn the air conditioning on? He’s multitasking big time. And James continues airing this pursuit. And we are trying to play catch up. And thankfully, suspect takes this road that borders the north side of a series of reservoirs. So reservoir, dam, next reservoir. And it kind of inches its way down out of the mountain range to the valley. This road, maybe seven miles of it is paved and then abruptly turns to gravel. And then from then on, it’s clearly this is a logging road. There are potholes that are four and a half feet wide by 18 inches deep. This is a horrible road. And we’re in Crown Victorias. Ford Crown Victorias. It’s not ideal. She’s in a Buick Skylark, suspects leading the chase. And eventually we get a train of police cars behind her. And the terrain on this road. Much of this terrain is uphill. So you’re going up the hill to the right is all downhill. There are no guardrails. And it’s in some places a 200 foot drop down to the water.
Yeardley [00:37:06] So downhill, not like downhill you can drive it.
Det. Dan [00:37:09] Almost a cliff.
Yeardley [00:37:10] Got it.
Det. Dan [00:37:10] Right. I mean, it’s so severe that if your vehicle went over the edge, you wouldn’t stop until you hit the lake. Finally, we get up so far into these hills that I’m noticing that James is radios starting to be spotty. His radio starts getting garbled. And that’s right as I catch up to this pursuit. And I remember there’s a county unit in front of me. We’ve got an Oak Ridge officer, James, suspect. And right behind me is an Oregon State Police trooper. And I know it’s an Oregon State Police trooper because they have the coolest lights. So we’re driving. I’m behind this train of cars. It’s really dusty. And I’ve got such a cloud of dust in front of me. I have no idea where the road is.
Yeardley [00:37:53] And do not have compasses in your cars. You can tell I’m going north, east, southwest.
Det. Dan [00:37:59] We do. It’s up on the mirror. But I can’t stress enough how treacherous this driving was. I was never going to look at the mirror because I’m so focused on the tail lights in front of me and making sure that they stay level. And not disappear, like disappear like they went off the side of the mountain.
Yeardley [00:38:18] OK.
Det. Dan [00:38:20] There are so many roads that branch off in these different directions, and some of them go up two miles, some go up 20 miles. And I didn’t have any cars in front of me. And so the only thing that I’ve got going for me in catching up is now they’ve slowed down quite a bit. They’re going at times 30 miles an hour. And I’m looking at my speedometer and I’m going 95, 100 on the straightaways. I remember, remember, I came up to a pretty hard left and I’m looking down to the right. And you know how I am with heights.
Yeardley [00:38:54] Yes.
Det. Dan [00:38:55] Not my favorite. There is a drop off to the right that goes down to this reservoir. It’s at least 100 feet. Probably not going to survive that. So I started breaking and I didn’t slam on my brakes because I knew if I slammed on my brakes, the back end is gonna break loose. And I’m probably going to just slide right off the side of this road and I’m going to be swimming, hopefully. Hopefully swimming.
Yeardley [00:39:23] You mean hopefully swimming vs. falling down the mountain, head over heels, smashing on the rocks.
Det. Dan [00:39:28] Yeah. Right. And I got to a point where as I was turning, I felt the front tires weren’t completely getting the purchase to make this left. I was sliding, sliding off of this road. And I swear I swear to it today, it felt like the hand of God pushed my car back onto the road, pushed the back of my vehicle and said, okay, I’m going to help you go left here. And that’s when I said, if you crash, you’re not going to ever catch up. You’ve got to slow down. Got to slow down a little bit. Make it up where you can. So straightaways, that’s where we’re going to make this up in the turns. We’re going to slow down, make sure that we navigate these safely. If I crash and I get really injured now, we’re splitting forces. People are going to have to attend to me. The thing that I learned the most when I was going through, you know, our driving courses, you can drive as fast as you want, but if you crash, never gonna get there.
Yeardley [00:40:34] That’s a good point.
Det. Dan [00:40:35] What I’m thinking about now is I want to be with my brother to catch up with my brother. So we’ve got four different agencies now involved in this pursuit. We’ve got our state police. We’ve got us. And we’ve got our county sheriff’s office. And we have a tiny town that’s way up in the woods called Oak Ridge. They’ve joined the pursuit too. Four different agencies on the radio, on their own channels, on their own channels. And, you know, I don’t have Oak Ridge’s channel. I’ve got our county sheriff’s office. I don’t have the state police because they’re on a different system. And some of these people, their radios aren’t working either. So at some point, I hear Dave start calling the pursuit. And Dave does a really good job.
Det. Dave [00:41:23] James. His radio completely cuts off. So I start calling this pursuit. And I remember being so turned around that I had no idea which way it was which. But I knew that I had to give landmarks for the people that were coming up behind me so they would know how far behind the front of the train is. So that’s why I’m giving landmarks like we just passed this gate or there’s a tree falling across the road. Big sweeping right turn like something that I’m hoping that when people get to it, they’ll be like, OK. That’s where we’re at. And I must be four or five minutes behind this pursuit right now.
Det. Dan [00:42:00] Was amazing, these landmarks that he was picking up.
Police Radio [00:42:03] Well, the passed a large stump on the left side of road. Large stump, left side of the road.
Det. Dan [00:42:09] The fuck is he talking about a stump? Of course there’s a fucking stump. It’s in the middle of the fucking woods. And then you’re like, oh, there’s the stump.
Police Radio [00:42:17] We’re continuing up the hill. Continuing up the hill. They’ll pass under the power line. And apparently it’s just for information. We’re hearing that road 5826 may be a dead end. Over OSP’s monitor just for info. Copy. Wilson do you copy this might be a dead end?
Yeardley [00:42:37] Is that the road you’re on?
Det. Dave [00:42:39] Yeah.
Police Radio [00:42:40] I got OSP behind be. So there’s going to be six units. And OSP is confirming 5826 is a dead end.
Police Radio [00:42:49] Continuing uphill. Very tight, very slick [inaudible] well, continuing more potholes. Be careful.
Det. Dave [00:42:58] So Dan’s designator in that radio traffic is eleven and I’m twelve.
Police Radio [00:43:04] Twelve continuing, continuing up the hill past the Y in the road with a green gate we’ll contue forward. Continuing up the hill, passing the green gate.
Police Radio [00:43:13] Twelve, we just passed a large tree that’s cut. Copy passing the large tree that’s cut station one to units twelve fourty nine.
Det. Dave [00:43:24] In our area if it’s twelve forty nine is that’s official. That’s when you pronounce someone dead.
Det. Dan [00:43:30] When that came over the radio. And when I hear it on this recording, it’s like a wave that goes over my whole body here hearing those words. Twelve, forty nine.
Yeardley [00:43:45] Even today?
Det. Dan [00:43:46] Even today, it’s not doing well today.
Yeardley [00:43:52] You’re doing great.
Det. Dan [00:43:53] Thank you.
Det. Dave [00:43:55] It has that same effect on me. You get the full body. Goose bumps. Not in a good way. And then you get clenched like lockjaw. Like where you’re trying to eat tears, not let them come out. That’s when I get when I hear that. Twelve forty nine. I also get it when I hear Dan saying he’s doing CPR every single time I listen to this every time. And I also need to comment on one thing. Our two dispatchers. Kim is the voice you hear. She says station one two units to forty nine, she’s station one. OK. She’s the one who’s giving out most of the updates. The other one is also, Don. It’s been on our podcast a few times. Dispatchers have a way of being very sterile and calm and monotone. And I know that they were both going through the same range of emotions that the rest of us were that day. And. Kim and Dawn were absolute professionals and kicked ass that day on the radio. They have the ability to impact officers state of mind just through their voice. And they were a comforting pair to have on the radio that day.
Yeardley [00:45:19] To hear you say that, obviously behind the scenes, they’re going through the same range of emotions that you are going through. I mean, it’s not surprising, but it is certainly not evident in the way that she delivers the message.
Det. Dave [00:45:31] Right, for our agency, Kim and or Dawn, or the first ones to know that Chris had died. And they’ve got to prepare themselves to now disseminate that information to all of Chris’s brothers and sisters in the valley in our county. And you hear us on the podcast. When we talk about this stuff, we get the crackle in our voice. Kim gives us just the facts, like I’m sure that was torture for her to say that over the radio and probably a huge nightmare for her. Never wanted to say that over the radio that an officer has died. And it’s what I needed in that pursuit. I needed Kim and Don to be exactly what they were.
Yeardley [00:46:21] Because also you all are still in the middle of something that’s highly critical.
Det. Dan [00:46:27] Yeah, and that’s important to air to units, because now we have a murderer who is on the run and that changes the rules of engagement.
Det. Dave [00:46:36] Now you have a fleeing felon who just murdered somebody.
Police Radio [00:46:59] Twelve just passed a road that veers off to the right, veers to the right. Passing a road that veers to the right. Twelve it’s pretty tight up here I’ve lost a mirror. On the right side.
Det. Dave [00:47:11] So this tree branch was leaning into the road and the car in front of me hit it and it knocked it back a little bit. And as it was coming down, I remember driving passing this tree. That’s just it’s a sapling leans over and takes off my right rear view mirror. And I remember thinking to myself, I may have to write a fucking memo for that. You know, I just damage my car. Damn it. So suspect runs out of road and we’re on this logging landing. That’s gravel to the left is uphill. It’s already been logged a large area. This has been logged. So there’s tree stumps everywhere. If she goes straight, you’re into the woods. She’s going to make it about 10 feet. To the right is downhill. And that’s been logged as well. So there’s nowhere to go. And now the train of police cars that hadn’t quite caught up to the pursuit or were within a few hundred yards caught up.
Police Radio [00:48:08] We’re stopped.
Yeardley [00:48:09] You sound sort of chipper. Were stopped.
Det. Dave [00:48:13] When I said we’re stopped it was because I’m on my way out of my car. It’s honestly like I’m putting it in park. Opening the door, got the mike in my hand. And I’m literally saying we’re stopped because I’m trying to get out because I don’t want to be sitting in my vehicle. When suspect is stopped a couple car lengths in front of me and she’s armed and she’s already killed a police officer. James is a couple of cars in front of me. So as I’m saying, we’re stopped. I remember seeing this woman running past my passenger side window and I was like, who the fuck is that? Who is hanging out up here?
Yeardley [00:48:54] Just hanging out.
Det. Dave [00:48:55] Right. Like, where’d she come from? And then I remember James had a ride along today and he was saying, get to safety, get to the back of all these cars. And so she’s bookin to get past all of us. But I remember as one of those. What the fuck was that? So where we came to a stop was this cleared off logging landing. And I remember looking uphill out my driver’s side and there were huge stumps everywhere. I was like, well, we’ve got good cover up here.
Yeardley [00:49:26] So stumps that are tall enough for you to stand behind.
Det. Dave [00:49:29] Oh, yeah. Oh. Like old growth timber. Big stumps wide. Like you could fit two or three cops behind them.
Yeardley [00:49:36] Now is there a point where you are getting to those stumps that you don’t have cover and she could shoot you?
Det. Dave [00:49:42] Yeah, but she’s in front of me. So for her to shoot me, say she’s face and forward, she’s facing twelve o’clock. Right. She’d have to shoot it about seven or eight o’clock from her position to hit us.
Yeardley [00:49:56] So she hasn’t gotten out of the car.
Det. Dave [00:49:58] She hasn’t. She’s just sitting in the driver’s seat. And you got to remember, there’s a handful of cops that are with us.
Police Radio [00:50:05] Still no compliance were given commands at this point. We just set up a perimeter around the vehicle, were trying to get her to comply. Copy.
Det. Dave [00:50:13] Every minute that goes by, another police officer shows up. My understanding at the end of this is tow truck driver who is in the area counted eighty two police vehicles leaving that mountain.
Yeardley [00:50:25] Wow.
Det. Dave [00:50:26] I remember hearing that there was a trooper from two hours north who had made it down there. I mean, people from every adjoining county came to our aid on that pursuit. And I got a great vantage point where basically the only part of me that was visible to her was the top half of my head. I’m looking down over my gun, over the edge of the stump. I’ve got plenty of wood in front of me. I’m comfortable that I’m safe. For me to use deadly force on somebody. I have to feel that my life or a third party, their life is in immediate danger of serious physical injury or death. That’s the threshold.
Yeardley [00:51:11] And you never have.
Det. Dave [00:51:13] I’ve never shot anybody. I’ve never discharged my gun on duty ever. And I remember sitting there. My finger on the trigger, which my fingers only go onto the trigger a few times in my career and my finger was on the trigger. And I remember looking down into this car saying, if I see any gun, I’m going to have to shoot this person. She’s going to do something that causes us to shoot her, like she’s going to point a gun at one of us and suspect yells. I’ve got a baby in the car next to me. Well, that changes things for me and it change things for everybody else up there, too. And that brought my trigger finger back off the trigger. I’m not going to shoot into a car knowing or not knowing even the question that there’s a baby inside that car. And that began a two hour standoff on that logging landing.
Yeardley [00:52:10] Good grief. And Dan, where are you at this point?
Det. Dan [00:52:14] I probably arrived a minute and a half, three minutes of the end of this pursuit. I gained a lot of ground.
Yeardley [00:52:21] That’s amazing.
Det. Dan [00:52:22] When I arrived, I think I was probably 10 cars back. This is a really narrow. It’s 10 feet wide. The road. Yeah. There were no three point turns on that road. You would have done off the side. Yeah. So this road is 10 feet wide and there are tree branches hanging over senior cars taking a beating. I remember one guy’s light bar had gotten ripped off from one of the trees. It hit his light bar and just ripped the light bar off.
Yeardley [00:52:46] That’s a memo.
Det. Dan [00:52:47] That is a memo.
Lieutenant Bills [00:52:48] That’s a big memo. Those are expensive.
Det. Dan [00:52:50] And when I stopped my car and I got out, the first person I saw was Dave and saw that he had bought a lot of real estate.
Yeardley [00:52:58] What do you mean?
Det. Dan [00:53:01] From where his car was for him to get up to that stuff. He had to cover about 40 feet with no cover and he gained a lot of ground and he got perfect cover. The stump was enormous. And I grabbed my rifle and took off running. I just pulled up next to him and put my rifle down on that stump and had an aim point on my rifle.
Yeardley [00:53:32] What’s that?
Det. Dan [00:53:32] An aim point is an optic holographic sight. Little red dot, wherever that red dot is, is where the bullet goes. And I put that aim point at the only thing that I could see, which was the side of her head. And I looked over at Dave and I said, Are you all right?
Det. Dave [00:53:52] I remember looking over kind of having the first thought of, the fuck are you doing here?
Det. Dan [00:53:58] I just heard you on the radio way down there, back in the city.
Det. Dave [00:54:04] And I remember Dan said I just did CPR on that officer. And I already knew that because I’d heard it on the radio. I felt bad for Dan because I heard it in his voice on the radio. I know I don’t know exactly what he’s going through, but I have got a pretty good idea. And I felt it. And it was business up there, like, let’s get this done the right way.
Police Radio [00:54:31] Still giving commands she’s still talking, still not compliant.
Det. Dan [00:54:35] You know, we’re telling her to show her hands and everything and she would show one hand out the window and it was waving around. A lot of officers recognize that that’s a distraction. Look at this hand while I’m doing something with this hand over here. And we can’t see that other hand. And we already know she’s got a gun.
Yeardley [00:54:53] Right. Now, Kristie, while all this is happening on a remote logging road up a mountain, you are still at home waiting for Chris to arrive. So you all can go on this family bike ride. At what point did you become aware of what had happened?
Kristie [00:55:09] So sitting on the back deck. He’s now late. He was supposed to be home around 4:00 and feeding the girls. So they’re taken care of. They were four and eleven at the time. And the phone rings, my house phone, my landline, and I got up to go answer it. And the female, who I did not know says, Is Chris home? And I said, no. And she’s hysterical. Is Chris there? Is Chris there? There’s something going on. There’s something going on. And she’s hysterical. And then she started to say something about a motors. And just then I looked out my side window and I saw two officers who are friends, out the window. And a first was like, oh, my friends are here, you know, not even thinking. So they come around the back and they go on the deck. And one officer hangs back with the girls and the other one comes to the door. And I said, hey. And then it’s like slow motion. This lady, whoever it was who had just said things that got me confused and I had no TV on or, you know. So I had no clue. And then my friend says to me, I got to talk to you.
Kristie [00:56:30] And I just ran I ran into the kitchen and he stopped me and my hands where my face because I didn’t want to hear the words. And he said, he’s gone. And I said, I can’t live without him. And he said, we’ll be here for you. And I said, what am I going to do with the girls? They’re going to be destroyed. He said, we will help you. And I just fell apart.
Yeardley [00:57:10] This concludes part one of Kilcullen 248 End of Watch, part two is available right now right here. We thank you for listening.
Yeardley [00:57:30] Small town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith and co-produced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Logan Heftel, Gary Scott, and me, Yardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and The Real Nick Smitty. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin, and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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Det. Dan & Det. Dave [00:58:31] In search of the finest rare true crime cases told, as always by the detectives who investigated them. So thanks for listening Small Town fam.
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