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Veteran officer fired shots that killed suspected kidnapper

by: COURTESY OF PPB - Kidnapping and robbery suspect Kelly Swoboda, 49, was killed Wednesday afternoon in a shootout with police in Hillsdale.An eight-year Portland Police Bureau veteran fired the gunshots that killed a suspect Wednesday afternoon during a confrontation outside Wilson High School in Southwest Portland.

Portland police said officer John Romero, who is assigned to the Youth Services Division, was wounded in the melee. He was treated at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital for an injury to his hand and arm and released Wednesday evening.

The suspect killed in the shooting identified Thursday afternoon as 49-year-old Kelly Vern Swoboda, who was wanted for robbing a Eugene bank and the January kidnapping of a Milwaukee woman from a tanning salon. He had a warrant for his arrest on a the robbery charge.

Swoboda was accused of kidnapping and assaulting a woman who was working Jan. 27 at Palm Beach Tan, 17046 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd. The victim, a woman in her 20s, was injured in the assault but escaped by jumping out of Swoboda's minivan while it was moving along Southeast Oatfield Road.

Swoboda was driving a purple 1989 to 1996 Dodge or Plymouth Caravan.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Thursday that Swoboda was a wanted federal fugitive based on a supervised release violation issued in connection with his prior bank robbery conviction. He was convicted of the bank robbery in 2006 in Portland and received a sentence of 70 months in prison. His supervised release began a year ago and a supervised release violation warrant was issued in November. The U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force had been looking for Swoboda since the warrant was filed.

On Wednesday, a federal indictment was filed against Swoboda alleging that he committed three bank robberies: Nov. 22, NW Priority Federal Credit Union in Milwaukie; Dec. 6, Cutting Edge Federal Credit Union in Milwaukie; and Dec. 21, Unitus Community Credit Union in Portland.

According to police, the shootout happened just after 4 p.m. March 12, when Romero and Central Precinct officers Sze Lai, a 22-year veteran, and Edgar Mitchell, a nine-year veteran, were near the Hillsdale Library, looking for a suspicious man driving a van.

Police said the van reported in the incident was associated with reports of a suspicious person following children.

A person who called 911 reported that the van was in the area and Mitchell, who was first to arrive, saw the van and its driver on Southwest Dewitt Street. Police said he wasn't taken questioned because the man did not match the description of the suspicious person.

Police said as the man went into the library, Mitchell checked the van's license plates and discovered that the back and front plates were different, with only the front plate registered to the van. When officers Lai and Romero arrived, Mitchell went into the library to search for the man. Romero went to the van and saw the man walking on Southwest Cheltenham Street.

Several witnesses told investigating detectives that Romero told the man several times to stop, but the man kept walking, ignoring the officer. At about 4:07 p.m., the man stopped and confronted Romero, and both fired weapons. Romero was wounded. The suspect was killed.

Romero reported that shots had been fired and took cover. Medical personnel treated Romero's injuries while others approached the suspect and confirmed that he was dead. A firearm was found near the suspect.

The Major Crimes Team is investigating the shooting. Romero was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure. The case will be presented to the Multnomah County district attorney's office who will schedule a grand jury inquiry into the shooting.

An autopsy is scheduled Thursday by the Oregon State Medical Examiner on the suspect.