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Man opens fire at officer in traffic stop

A Hillsboro police officer is fortunate to be alive after a passenger in a vehicle pulled over in a traffic stop opened fire with a handgun.

At 9:40 p.m. Friday, two Hillsboro police officers stopped a vehicle with four individuals inside on 13th Avenue near Southeast Maple Street in Hillsboro.

As officer Tina Latendresse approached the car — described as a green 1992 Honda Accord — and began talking with the occupants, a man in the front passenger seat pulled out a .22-caliber revolver and allegedly began firing at Latendresse.

“The officer was in the process of getting the folks out of the car to find out who was who,” explained Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department. “He’s (the suspect) standing up and getting out of the car, and that’s when he pulled a revolver and started shooting.”

Officer Latendresse was able to pull back and get away from the car, and the suspect’s bullets missed her. At the same time, Latendresse’s partner, officer Will Blood, returned fire with his handgun.

“Every second counts there,” Rouches said. “The cover officer had the presence of mind to figure out exactly what was going on, and acted very quickly and very decisively.”

The suspect was later identified as Victor Torres-Elizondo, also known as Victor Torres, 30. Law enforcement officials said he most recently lived in Woodburn and Forest Grove. Rouches said Torres last lived in Forest Grove in 2009, and had moved around Washington County in recent years.Rouches pointed out that only Blood fired his weapon, as Latendresse did not have time to return fire.

“She was trying to withdraw,” Rouches said.

Torres was hit by at least one bullet fired from Blood’s service weapon; the final forensics report has not yet been released by investigators.

After he was hit, Torres was given first aid at the scene and then was transported to Emanuel Hospital, where he later died from his wounds.

No one else from the car was injured.

Officer Latendresse suffered an injury to her hand from shrapnel from one of the suspect’s bullets. She was treated and released from a local hospital.

Court records indicated that Torres had at least one prior felony conviction. On March 30, 2009, he was convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance. At that time, he was reportedly living on 19th Place in Forest Grove. Torres had also been charged with several other counts of possession of controlled substances, forgery, and traffic violations such as failure to obey traffic control devices and driving while uninsured.

Capt. Mike Herb of the Forest Grove Police Department said department files show Forest Grove officers had contact with Torres more than once.

“It appears this guy lived in Forest Grove at least in 2006 and 2007, just by the contact we show with our agency,” Herb explained. “He was the victim of a stolen car in 2006. He was stopped by our officers on traffic (violations) on two different instances. In January of 2007 he was issued a citation for driving while suspended, and in July of 2007 he was stopped and issued a warning for use of prohibited lighting on his vehicle.”

According to Rouches, the car Torres was in last Friday was stopped for a minor traffic infraction.

“The car had a burned out license plate light,” Rouches explained. “It was not a felony stop, just a traffic stop. We’ll never know why the bad guy decided to fire on a cop, but obviously he thought we knew something. We had no idea who was in the car. If we did, we would have initiated a felony stop.”

The other three occupants of the vehicle — two women and a man — were detained for several hours by Hillsboro police for questioning and further investigation, and were released at around 6 a.m. Saturday.

Rouches said there was no probable cause to arrest them.

“They were compliant. They didn’t act in concert with the shooter, and it was believable they didn’t know he would do that,” Rouches said. “They were not causing a problem or disturbance, and they were not arrested or charged with any crime.”

At the time of the incident, Lattendresse, 41, had served just 18 days with the Hillsboro Police Department. She was on only her third duty shift in the city, although she has 14 years overall experience as a police officer.

Blood, 35, has been with HPD for four years, and has 11 years experience as a police officer.

Rouches said it was lucky there were two officers together in the patrol car that evening.

“That’s not typical,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll have people double up, but often we run one-person cars. This made all the difference in the world to have two people — someone contacting the vehicle and someone watching. In my view, that saved the cop’s life. If not for that, it may have ended differently.”

The case remains under investigation by the Hillsboro Police Department’s detectives and the Washington County Major Crimes Team.




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