© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oregon’s top police trooper on leave following Amber Alert shooting

FBI, county and police officials wait for the all-clear to collect evidence at the home of Elias Huizar, 39, where his 17-year-old girlfriend, Angelica Santos, was found dead.
Anna King / NW News Network
FBI, county and police officials wait for the all-clear to collect evidence at the home of Elias Huizar, 39, where his 17-year-old girlfriend, Angelica Santos, was found dead.

Superintendent Casey Codding, who leads the Oregon State Police, is one of three troopers on administrative leave after he fired his service weapon Tuesday amid a high-speed chase on Interstate 5 near Eugene.

Codding was among the troopers who responded after police in Oregon identified a former Washington state police and school resource officer who allegedly kidnapped his 1-year-old son and killed a woman and teenage girl, including the child’s mother, in West Richland, Washington.

On Tuesday afternoon, Oregon State Police spotted the suspect, Elias Huizar, who fled after troopers tried to make a traffic stop. Huizar later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Capt. Kyle Kennedy, with the Oregon State Police, told OPB that Codding was in the area as the pursuit unfolded.

“I can’t tell you exactly why the superintendent was right where he was at the time,” Kennedy said. “He was there and he was available.”

It’s unusual for such a high-ranking law enforcement officer typically tasked with the administrative duties of a sprawling statewide agency to use lethal force in the line of duty.

With Codding on leave, Oregon State Police Deputy Superintendent Josh Brooks will temporarily take over.

Kennedy said it’s unclear how long Codding and the other troopers will be on administrative leave.

The entire law enforcement organization was focused Tuesday on finding Huizar after the Washington State Patrol requested that the agency issue an Amber Alert, Kennedy said.

Codding, who was driving his unmarked State Police SUV, was part of the pursuit which saw speeds reach more than 100 miles per hour.

Codding, Sgt. Orly Johnson and another trooper who is also on leave, attempted to stop Huizar near milepost 209.

“During that, the suspect vehicle lost control, and the suspect began to engage those pursuing officers with gunfire,” Kennedy said.

Codding and Johnson returned fire, Kennedy said.

“At this time it’s not believed the suspect was struck by gunfire,” Kennedy said. “There were some shots fired and the pursuit continued.”

Speeds again reached more than 100 miles per hour, Kennedy told OPB.

While an airplane was available for assistance, Kennedy said it was not involved during the pursuit.

Huizar crashed near milepost 197 and died by suicide, police said during a news conference Tuesday. One-year-old Roman Santos was not injured.

“It’s not ideal that the superintendent would be involved in a scenario like this. At the same time, when he’s one of just a couple of people that are in the area, this sort of scenario necessitates that anybody who is in the area and available respond to help,” Kennedy said. “This was all-hands-on-deck.”

Kennedy praised Codding’s actions, and called him “a trooper at heart.” He added that all the Oregon State Police members involved were thankful the child was safe.

This week’s shooting was not the first time Codding was involved in a high-profile police killing.

On Jan. 26, 2016, Codding was one of the troopers who shot and killed LaVoy Finicum, one of the leaders of an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

During his nearly three decades with the Oregon State Police, Codding served as the lieutenant overseeing the agency’s SWAT team.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into Tuesday’s use of force.
Copyright 2024 Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Related Content