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Deputies Firie Less than Lethal 'Bean Bag Rounds' at Woman After Dangerous ChaseVideo by Jerry Freeman Salem-News.com
Marion County Sheriff's deputies also used 'Taser' in arrest of woman who had to be stopped twice..
(SALEM) - It was quite a scene in Salem today when a woman failed to stop for police and instead fled from the city of Silverton, into north Salem.
Authorities first heard about the driver after a 911 caller reported a 1996 white Ford Econoline van driving recklessly on Silverton Road NE near Howell Prairie Road. This was at about 10:45 a.m., according to a press release issued today.
The 911 Dispatcher issued an alert that was heard by a Silverton Police Officer who spotted the van on West Main Street in Silverton at 10:55am. The Silverton Officer attempted to stop the van, but it continued westbound on Silverton Road into the county jurisdiction. During this time, the van was driven recklessly, nearly hitting cars approaching from the opposite direction on Silverton Road.
Deputies saw the van approaching on Silverton Road at a high rate of speed. Near Silverton and Lardon Road NE they employed spike strips and flattened all four tires on the van, hoping to lessen the danger posed to other drivers.
At about 11:03 a.m., the van stopped on flattened tires at Silverton and 48th Ave. The driver, later identified as Stephanie Omnik, 33 of Salem, refused all commands to get out of the van. At one point, she climbed into the rear area of the van and turned up the music in an attempt to drown out deputies commands. After 20 minutes in the stopped van, she suddenly she returned to the driver's seat, pointed her hand at deputies as though simulating she had a weapon and drove off.
The press release states that the van was now operating on flattened tires and bare rims at this point. Our News Photojournalist Jerry Freeman Arrived on the scene as deputies had the woman's van surrounded. Omnik had pulled into the Salem RV Park at 4490 Silverton Road NE, still driving at a speed that posed considerable danger to the residents in the RV Park, the Sheriffs Office noted.
She narrowly missed hitting several residents who were walking in the area at the time. Sr. Deputy Shawn Bush chose to use his patrol car to pin the van against a storage building in the RV Park.
Omnik continued to refuse commands to surrender. At one point, she opened her door and threatened deputies with a box-cutter knife. During this split-second encounter, she threw the knife at deputies who, in response, deployed both a Taser and three less-lethal bean bag rounds to gain control of the suspect.
The Marion County press release initially stated that two bean bag rounds were fired. Salem-News wrote to the agency's public information officer, Don Thomson, asking for an explanation and if he could shed light on the conflict of numbers. Instead of responding, he issued a new press release and sent it out.
Omnik was then taken into custody without further incident at 11:47 a.m. and transported to the Salem Hospital for a medical check and then arrested, cited and released on multiple charges including felony elude, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, and 3 counts of assault of a police officer.
The press release from Thomson also stated:
She was also held on a 72-hour mental health evaluation. The decision to release her on a citation stemmed for her statements that she was hoping they would shoot her when she threatened them and threw the razor knife at them. She will appear in court at a later time and face booking then.
No other vehicles were struck during this pursuit that covered almost nine miles and lasted almost an hour from the time of the original call to her arrest. No pedestrians were injured, and no injuries were experienced by law enforcement personnel.
The Oregon Child Development School has a satellite facility at 4412 Silverton Road. It was locked down from 11:15am to 11:41am, inconveniencing 11 students and their instructor. Class resumed when the lockdown was lifted.
Jerry Freeman is part of a new generation of dedicated news photographers who entered the Internet news industry as a second career. He shares in common with many people who fulfilled their life dream of becoming a visual journalist. Joining the Navy at an early age, and the Oregon Army Guard a few years later, Jerry has a wide range of life experiences. He describes himself as “a truck driver with a new found passion to bear witness to the world’s events.”
Teaming up with Salem-News.com he embarked on a new career as a video news photographer and reporter. Jerry's quick exhibition of natural talent and ability to shoot breaking news led to his becoming a published member of the Salem-News.com team.
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