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Two dead in daytime shooting at police station

by: Vern Uyetake, West Linn police cordon off an area in the police department parking lot where a man shot and killed his estranged wife, before turning the gun on himself.

A woman heading to the West Linn Police Department for help in a domestic dispute was shot and killed in the department's parking lot Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Lisa Gayle McMurtrey, 51, of West Linn, was en route to the police department at 22825 Willamette Drive from her home near Mary S. Young Park as her estranged husband, Newton Bill McMurtrey, 56, of Damascus, chased her in a pickup.

As the two vehicles sped into the station's parking lot, the husband rammed his truck into the side of her sport utility vehicle near the station's front door. Police said he then opened fire with a rifle at 3:54 p.m., shooting through the SUV's passenger side front window and killing her, said police spokesman West Linn Sgt. Neil Hennelly.

He then turned the gun on himself.

He did not succumb to the gunshot. Firefighter paramedics from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue transported him to Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital, where he died later Tuesday.

West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus was in his office when the victim and suspect drove into the station parking lot and saw the final moments through his window.

'We are saddened by the tragic incident,' Timeus said. 'Though we know our officers could not have changed the outcome of this shooting, we understand she was trying to make it here for safety. Our hearts go out to the victim's family.'

Officers later learned that 30 minutes before the shooting, witnesses saw the suspect's truck ramming into the victim's SUV while driving along Highway 43.

'It is imperative that people call 9-1-1 immediately if they witness suspicious or violent behavior,' Hennelly said.

'She went from there, came down Highway 43 to the station,' he said. 'Timeus saw the cars drive in right under his window, sees a rifle in the truck and he called the officers into action. He crashes his car into hers. And from his car, he shoots her through the car window with the rifle. After he shoots here, he turns the gun on himself.'

The two vehicles remained several feet from the entrance to the police department's business office into the evening - the windshield wipers on the victim's SUV still in motion in a cold rain - as detectives and officers investigated the scene.

Bystanders were immediately drawn to the commotion.

Mike Brown, manager at Life Support Community Center on nearby Willamette Falls Drive, heard the gunshots from inside the center.

'They sounded kind of muffled,' Brown said. 'I wasn't sure if it was a car backfiring or gunshots. And then I noticed there was no traffic going by outside. And at this time of day, there's always a lot of traffic. There was just police cars and fire engines going by.'

West Linn couple Mat Wallis and Sharon Ray noticed the commotion from their apartment overlooking the police department from adjacent Broadway Street.

'I came out for a cigarette before it happened, and all of a sudden all these police cars started gathering,' Wallis said. 'A cop pulled up on (Willamette Drive) with his rifle drawn. And other cars pulled up, focused on the building. But we didn't really see anything other than that, just a lot of police activity.'

They didn't, however, hear the gunshots.

'I'm surprised we didn't hear it,' Ray said.