NEAR THE DALLES, Ore. – Investigators have identified the man who opened fire on a state trooper during a traffic stop east of The Dalles on Thursday, although they have not said what might have motivated him to start shooting.
John Van Allen II, 34, was shot and killed by the trooper who pulled him over, according to state police spokesman Lt. Gregg Hastings.
Trooper Matthew Zistel, 26, was patrolling a construction zone on I-84 on Thursday afternoon when he pulled Allen over for speeding. Allen had his three children in the car – a 10-year-old girl and two boys, ages 13 and 15.
During the traffic stop, Allen shot at Zistel with a handgun, hitting the trooper in the side, according to Hastings. Zistel managed to return fire and hit Allen in the chest.
Allen drove away after being hit, but other troopers found him down the highway slumped over dead in his car.
Zistel was taken to the hospital and released later the same day.
Allen’s friend Tiffany Haines said he was a single father who moved to Oregon about a year ago.
“He was always a happy, hopeful, lovable person. He never got into trouble,” Haines said. “He never got into fights in school. He was just very respectful.”
The picture Haines paints is in stark contrast to the image of a man who fired at a state trooper. She said Allen was ordained when he was 22 and served as a pastor when he previously lived in Pittsburgh.
He also served in the military, although Haines said he hadn’t been active for at least two years.
She said Allen had his first child at age 15 and was now a grandfather.
“John was a God-fearing man. This is so out of character,” Haines said. “I think there’s more to this story. It’s so horrible that his children had to witness.”
Investigators are still reviewing the case and have not said why Allen might have started shooting.
The Sherman County district attorney will review the case and make the final determination if Zistel was justified in shooting Allen.