Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins says victim fired a weapon at deputies prior to officer-involved shooting

Thursday shooting in Hazel Dell claimed the life of 21-year-old Kevin E. Peterson Jr.

Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins met with members of the media Friday afternoon to deliver a statement on the officer-involved shooting that took place Thursday evening in Hazel Dell.

Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins delivers a statement Friday afternoon at the Clark County Public Service Center regarding Thursday’s officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of 21-year-old Kevin E. Peterson Jr., a resident of Camas. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kevin Peterson. Photo courtesy Jake Thompson via Twitter
Kevin Peterson. Photo courtesy Jake Thompson via Twitter

Atkins, who spoke at a gathering at the Clark County Public Service Center, confirmed that family members had identified the victim as Kevin E. Peterson Jr., a 21-year-old resident of Camas. Peterson was shot and killed at about 6 p.m. Thursday by Clark County Sheriff’s Office officers in the parking lot of the US Bank, located at 6829 NE Highway 99.

Atkins stated that CCSO officers engaged in a foot pursuit of Peterson, who he said had a firearm. Atkins said that when the chase entered the US Bank parking lot that Peterson fired his weapon at the deputies, who returned fire.

Here is a full transcript of Atkins’ statement, as provided by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office:

CCSO Sheriff Chuck Atkins’ statement

“I have a statement, and a commitment, that I want to make to the community and to the family of a young man who lost his life last night.

I will start by telling you that there is a lot about this situation that I don’t know. Under I-940 and the state law requirements of an independent investigation, all of which I support – it is not my investigation and that means I am waiting along with you to learn about much of the details. Here is what I do know:

Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins. Photo by Mike Schultz

Just before 6PM on last night, detectives from the Clark/Vancouver Drug Task Force were conducting a narcotics investigation in the 6800 block of NE Hwy 99. A foot pursuit ensued where deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office were chasing a man with a firearm. The information I have is that upon entering the parking lot of a bank, the man reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the subject was tragically killed. It is my understanding that the man’s firearm was observed at the scene.

The press is reporting that the family has identified the young man involved as Kevin E. Peterson, Jr. It’s important to relate that the loss of a young man’s life likely means there is a grieving father, mother and other family. It is right and correct that the community would grieve along with this family. While I have not spoken with the deputies involved in this matter, I am confident that they are upset at the unfortunate outcome of this encounter. I can say that our agency is grieving as is the Peterson family and the community. Washington State independent investigation protocols require the designation of a law enforcement liaison to Mr. Peterson’s family. It is my commitment to participate as much as I can in ensuring that there is a complete, thorough independent determination of what happened, how it happened and what can be learned from this incident. I believe that it is important that the family be kept updated as much as absolutely possible.

As the community grieves, I call for there to be a respectful and dignified observance of the loss of life in this matter. There is always the potential for misinformation, doubt and confusion – and there may be those who wish to sow seeds of doubt. I insist that we will ALL learn in time what was lawful and/or unlawful, what was proper and/or improper and what we as an agency and community can learn from this matter.

I am committed to the accountability and transparency expected of this community and by state law and stand prepared to do my part as Sheriff in seeing that done. That said, this matter was turned over to the Southwest Washington Independent Investigation Team last night and is being led by the Camas Police Department for this incident.

Battle Ground Police Chief Mike Fort will be putting out further news releases regarding details of the investigation.  No further information is being released now, and I am not taking any questions at this time.”

-Sheriff Chuck Atkins