Oregon City

Reserve police officer dies after shooting in Oregon City

Reserve police officer dies after shooting in Oregon City »Play Video
Officer Robert Libke (Photo from Oregon City Police)

OREGON CITY, Ore. – An Oregon City reserve police officer who was shot on Sunday while responding to a burning house has died, police announced Monday.

Authorities released the officer's identity Monday morning.

Reserve officer Robert Libke, 41, was shot in the face, witnesses said. He was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. It's unclear when he died.

Libke was a reserve officer since 2009, police said. Reserve officers are volunteers who help patrol officers.

"I and the department and the city are extremely proud of the job that Officer Rob Libke did yesterday in what was a very dangerous call in a residential neighborhood," said Oregon Ciy Police Chief Jim Band. "We're asking for thoughts and prayers for Rob's family."

A police procession escorted Libke's body from the hospital to the Lincoln Memorial Park Funeral Home. A candle light vigil was planned for 7 p.m. at Chapin Park in Oregon City.

"My understanding is anytime he was requested to come out and he was able to, he did. He was very dependable. (He) represents a tremendous loss," said an emotional Mayor Doug Neeley.

The suspect, 88-year-old Lawrence Cambra, was shot during a confrontation with SWAT team officers after shooting Libke, investigators said. He died at the scene, a Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.

The shooting and fire happened at 841 Linn Avenue in Oregon City around 1 p.m.

Josh Wenzel, who lives across the street, said he saw the house on fire and he tried to help rescue Cambra. He said Cambra was holding a revolver and told Wenzel he’d set his own house on fire.

Lawrence Cambra

“I asked him what was going on,” Wenzel said. “He said something like he did it or ‘I set the fire.’ At that point I was going to pull him away. He was kind of out of his mind.”

Brandon Paxton with Clackamas Fire said that when firefighters arrived, police told them to stay back because there was an armed suspect inside the home.

Wenzel said after he got away from the house, he screamed at neighbors that Cambra had a gun. Soon, police arrived.

"I saw an officer pull up," Wenzel said. “He was saying, 'drop your gun.' He had his gun ready but he said 'drop your gun' again, and at the same time, that’s when he was shot in the head. And I was watching from our front porch about 20 feet away.”

Police evacuated neighboring homes and closed streets while the SWAT team searched for the suspect.

The SWAT team drove an armored vehicle near the house to give police cover to rescue Libke, who was wounded on the ground.

The two Clackamas County deputies involved in shooting Cambra are Detective Sergeant Matt Swanson and Deputy Jesse Unck. Both are SWAT team members.

Sergeant Swanson has been with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office for more than 13 years and Deputy Unck is a four-year veteran. Both are on paid administrative leave, which is standard protocol for this type of incident.

Fire investigators are looking into how the fire started. The sheriff’s office says the investigation should take another 24-48 hours.

Sgt. Dan Kraus says investigators are still trying to determine a motive but don't believe the fire was set lure police into an ambush.

Libke was the first Oregon City police officer to be shot in the line of duty since 1906, the sheriff’s office said.

Libke's wife is pregnant, a neighbor told KATU. She had to be taken away in an ambulance when she heard about the shooting.

Lynn Hadd said their neighborhood had a lot of crime until the Libkes moved to the area. Libke helped start a neighborhood watch, Hadd said.

Anyone who wants to help Officer Libke's family can donate to the Officer Libke Fund at any Clackamas Federal Credit Union branch.

Cambra was a retired federal government employee who worked on Navy submarines.

Court records show a history of domestic violence involving a 69-year-old woman who used to live at the home with Cambra. That woman was granted a restraining order against Cambra last October.

Court documents show that when asked a question about Cambra's character and whether he could be dangerous, the woman responded: "(He) said he was going to get a gun and get rid of a few people and himself. That I should watch my back."

Cambra made those threats after following the woman to a grocery store, documents said.

The woman requested to have the restraining order dismissed nine days later, documents show. The two had been living together since 2006.

A judge also issued a firearm restriction against Cambra, records said.

Timeline of events on Sunday afternoon:

KATU's Dan Tilkin, Stephen Mayer, Dan Cassuto and The Associated Press contributed to this story.