May 22nd, 2024

Ex-Washington officer wanted in 2 killings found in Oregon with gunshot wound, police say

By Mark Thiessen And Gene Johnson, The Associated Press on April 23, 2024.

SEATTLE (AP) – A former Washington state police officer wanted in two killings has been found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a chase in Oregon, authorities said Tuesday. His 1-year-old baby was taken safely into custody by Oregon State Patrol troopers.

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

Huizar sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head; his condition was unknown, the West Richland Police Department said in a Facebook post.

Huizar went on the run Monday after killing two people, including his ex-wife, who had recently obtained a protection order against him, authorities said.

The Washington State Patrol late Monday issued an alert that Huizar had fled with 1-year-old Roman Huizar. Huizar, 39, had a baby of that age with the 17-year-old former student, who lived with him as of early this year, court records show. Authorities said Huizar might be headed to Mexico.

The alert came after the West Richland Police Department responded Monday afternoon to a shooting outside Wiley Elementary School. Officers found Amber Rodriguez, 31, Huizar’s ex-wife and the mother of their two sons, shot eight times near the school bus parking lot, according to a probable cause statement filed in Benton County Superior Court on Monday.

Investigators went to Huizar’s home and found a second victim. The Washington State Patrol identified that victim as Huizar’s girlfriend, but police Tuesday declined to provide further information or confirm if it was the teenage girl who had been living with him.

The former couple’s 9-year-old son told officers that “he observed his father, Elias Huizar, shoot his mother,” the documents say. 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.

According to court filings earlier this year, Huizar met the girl as a school resource officer in Yakima. She was 11 when they met, and 15 when he impregnated her, Rodriguez wrote in seeking a protection order against him.

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 teen 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 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 said 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, he 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.

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