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Man sentenced for attempted murder of Scappoose police officer

Repeat offender Eric Caldwell sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for 2015 robbery, attempted murder of cop

A year ago last month, on July 19, Sgt. Dennis Viereck was seconds away from being run over and likely killed by a driver in a stolen SUV.

Viereck, a sergeant with the Scappoose Police Department, and his partner, Officer Matt Dorick, were responding to a call of a stolen GMC Yukon with a trailer attached.

Dorick and Viereck’s patrol vehicles meandered up Raymond Creek Road — a narrow, unpaved path barely wide enough for two passing vehicles.

Dashboard camera video from the patrol units shows the officers commanding the driver of the stolen SUV, Eric Caldwell, to put his hands up. SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Scappoose Police Sgt. Dennis Viereck and Officer Matt Dorick, shown here on a call in 2016, were both involved in an officer-involved shooting and pursuit in 2015. The suspect in that case was charged with attempted murder.

Almost immediately after their commands, the SUV charges toward them. Viereck leaps out of the road, narrowly missing the Yukon, as Dorick fires shots at the SUV, striking the driver in the upper body.

“Sarge! Are you OK?” Dorick yells to Viereck.

Seemingly unfazed by the bullets, the SUV takes off and a countywide law enforcement chase for the suspect ensues.

Caldwell later pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree robbery, and pleaded no contest to attempted murder. Nine other charges, including burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle and fleeing an officer, were dismissed as part of his plea deal.

Columbia Circuit Judge Jenefer Stenzel Grant sentenced Caldwell to 140 months in prison Tuesday. CALDWELL

“When I put on my uniform and got ready for work that day I was not thinking in a few short hours someone would be so set on getting away with stealing someone else’s hard earned property that they would rather run me over not caring if I was able to get out of the way or if I died,” Viereck wrote in a prepared statement to be read to Caldwell, prior to his sentencing.

Miller read the statement on Viereck’s behalf in court.

The evening of the pursuit, Caldwell sped away from Dorick and Viereck with 23-year-old Elisha Howell in the passenger seat, but ditched the stolen SUV and trailer near the Burger King and Sears store in Scappoose.

Police reports after the incident indicated Caldwell left the Yukon in the Sears parking lot and stole a Geo Prizm, fleeing north on Highway 30.

Caldwell fled through Deer Island, over the Lewis & Clark Bridge into Cowlitz County, Washington, where the Prizm had mechanical failure and the pursuit came to a halt.

Caldwell and Howell were arrested and Caldwell was taken to PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview for treatment of a gunshot wound to his chest and arm, reports from Scappoose and Oregon State Police stated.

OSP investigated the incident.

Court records show Caldwell has a long criminal history in Multnomah County, with more than 30 charges, most of them felonies, since the 1990s. His most recent address is in Gresham.

“Because of your actions and choices that day instead of just going in and covering my shift I saw my life flash before my eyes and ended up with a splinter in my head, an arm contusion, a broken leg and a bruised lung,” Viereck wrote. “The magnitude of your actions that day affected so many people. You literally terrorized this community and put several people’s lives in danger over material items that didn’t belong to you. ... I can only hope you use these next several months to decide to make yourself a better person and give back to your community instead of taking things away from it.”