DA finds trooper justified in fatal I-84 shooting

DA finds trooper justified in fatal I-84 shooting
John Van Allen II.

PORLTAND, Ore. – A trooper who returned fire and killed a man after being shot during a traffic stop along Interstate 84 last month was justified in using deadly force, the Sherman County district attorney said Tuesday.

Oregon State Police Trooper Matt Zistel, 26, was injured during the incident after being shot in the left side by the suspect, police said.

Zistel pulled over 34-year-old John Van Allen II on Aug. 29 just before 1 p.m. for going 74 mph in a construction zone about 20 miles east of The Dalles.

According to the district attorney's office, before Zistel could stop his patrol car Van Allen, wearing camouflaged military fatigues, jumped out of his Cadillac Catera and acted aggressively toward Zistel while keeping his right hand behind his back.

The trooper tried to explain why he pulled Van Allen over and told him to get back in his car. Van Allen refused to cooperate and advanced toward the trooper. He then pulled out a gun from his waistband and fired, hitting Zistel. The trooper returned fire, hitting Van Allen in the right side of his chest.

The district attorney's office said that Van Allen "continued to stalk" Zistel before he jumped back in his vehicle and drove about a half mile down the freeway.

Other troopers found Van Allen dead in his car on the shoulder of the freeway. His three children were in the car. They were not injured. According to a source familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to speak on the record, the children are now in the custody of their mother in Pennsylvania.

According to the source, Van Allen and the children were in the process of moving to South Carolina, a decision that appeared to have been made not long before the shooting.

Van Allen's motive for shooting the trooper remains unclear. His cousin, Kasmira Hamlet, told KATU News the day after the shooting that she had no idea what led to the shootout or why her cousin would have shot the trooper.

Van Allen’s friends said he was a pastor. He also served in the military.