Officer shot: Doctors highly optimistic he'll fully recover

Officer shot: Doctors highly optimistic he'll fully recover »Play Video
Lincoln City Police Officer Steven Dodds (left) with his daughter, Megan Dodds (right). Photo courtesy of Megan Dodds.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The police officer who was critically wounded in a traffic stop with a suspect who later fled into the woods on the Oregon Coast has improved greatly and is expected to survive.

Lincoln City Officer Steven Dodds has been hospitalized at Portland's Legacy Emanuel Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds since Sunday when the shooting occurred.

Officials are still looking for 43-year-old David Anthony Durham, who they believe shot Dodds before leading police on a high speed chase. Durham fled into the woods on foot and is still at large.

At a news conference held Thursday at Legacy Emanuel Hospital, the officer's daughter, Megan Dodds, said her father has turned his head toward her and squeezed her hand.

"He's gotten a lot more color and his eyes have been opening and stuff and he's been a lot more responsive than before," she said. Megan is a college freshman.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Seth Izenberg declined to say exactly how many times Dodds had been shot, only revealing that the officer had been hit at least twice by gunfire and most of the injuries were to the officer's abdomen and pelvic area. The officer had massive bleeding when he arrived at the hospital and had lost a significant amount of blood.

"I'm really proud of him for coming as far as he has," Megan said. "But there's still a long way to go."

Dodds is being looked after by a large team of doctors, nurses and others who are closely monitoring his condition.

"A hundred eyes on a patient is better than two," Dr. Izenberg said.

Dr. Izenberg said he is 98 percent confident that Dodds will fully recover and be able to resume his duties as an officer. He added that he and the other doctors expect that Dodds will be released from the hospital in a week and a half to two weeks.

Both Megan and Lincoln City Police Chief Steven Bechard said during the news conference that Dodds was very fit and cared about his nutrition. His doctors said that healthy way of living gave him a good chance of survival.

After the official news conference, some of the first responders the night Dodds was shot spoke about what happened that evening. In the first video below, 911 dispatcher Paul Compton talks about getting the 'officer down' call from Dodds. In the second video, Sgt. Randy Weaver with the Lincoln City Police Department talks about being the first person on the scene and seeing his fellow officer down.

The Search for the Suspect

A team hunting the man accused of shooting Dodds believes he is holed up in a vacation home in a secluded neighborhood less than a block from the Pacific Ocean.

It's the latest theory by local and state police on the whereabouts of David Anthony Durham, a former landscaper who family members say slipped into a deluded state and at one point misinterpreted a movie about space aliens for a documentary.

The places left unsearched are mostly locked properties, the rentals and second homes of people who return to coastal Oregon when the weather turns warm. They're also the places that the search team can't go, unless they see signs of life or signs of a break-in.

Durham was last clearly seen 30 minutes before the shooting in security footage from a Lincoln City convenience store, which was released by the Oregon State Police on Wednesday. The footage shows him decked head to toe in green camouflage and a dark beret.

With the manhunt moving past the fifth day, searchers are focusing on a 3-square-mile strip of land that pokes into the Pacific Ocean. It has dedicated 25 members of the Oregon State Police SWAT team to around the clock patrols of the area and checks on the houses on the peninsula.

Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda said he didn't escape by the Pacific Ocean or the Alsea River. "He wouldn't last more than five minutes in this water," Miranda said.

Miranda said the search won't end until Durham is caught or gives up.

"He's probably waiting for us to leave, but we're not leaving," Miranda said.

If he's in the woods, Durham's family said he's doesn't have the training to last long.

"He had the outdoorsman skills like anybody who spends time outdoors should have," his brother Michael Durham said Wednesday.

Video of SWAT in a Bayshore Estates Neighborhood
(courtesy David Tokar)

Durham's Recent Odd Behavior

Michael Durham says his brother lost touch with reality several months ago after taking pain medication for an injured shoulder. David Durham seemed especially struck by a recently released movie about aliens invading a remote Alaskan town, making its resident disappear.

"David, my brother, had thought it was a documentary," Michael said. "It made us do a double-take."

Durham's acquaintances knew him as a friendly neighbor on rural Sauvie Island in Portland and avid landscaper who was also a volunteer firefighter. His landlady, Kristi Fazio, told The Associated Press that Durham was always wearing camouflage fatigues when he showed up at her door to pay the rent.

But six months ago, he was moved to "inactive service" within the Sauvie Island Fire District for unspecified emotional problems. He started slipping deeper into a depression after a breakup, friends said, and entertained paranoid fantasies about being pursued by police.

One of his co-workers, Christina Cowan, told the Oregonian that he didn't show up for work last Friday.

The Shooting That Started It All

The incident that prompted the manhunt happened late Sunday evening when Officer Steven Dodds with the Lincoln City Police Department pulled over a Dodge truck for speeding about 40 miles north of Waldport.

Officer Dodds was shot multiple times during the traffic stop and although he was unable to return fire, he did manage to call in his own officer down report, according to Lt. Jerry Palmer with the Lincoln City Police Department.

The gunman drove south on U.S. 101 and was spotted and chased by Newport police, with several shots fired at officers. None were hit, but two patrol vehicles and a car were struck by bullets, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings, a state police spokesman.

The Dodge truck was stopped by spike strips on the highway at Waldport, where the driver fled on foot into a wooded area. The gunman also shot at a crab fisherman on a boat in Alsea Bay, near the bridge, Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda said. The fisherman was struck by shrapnel but was not seriously injured.

To Show Support for Officer Steven Dodds

For those who are interested in making a donation, a fund has been established by the Lincoln City Police Employee's Association at West Coast Bank under the name: LCPEA: STEVE DODDS. The address is:

West Coast Bank
4157 N. Highway 101
Lincoln City, Oregon 97367

For those who want to send cards, you can mail them to the Lincoln City Police Department at:

Lincoln City Police Department
1503 SE East Devils Lake Road
Lincoln City, Oregon 97367