(The following statement is from the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page)
by Sheriff Joshua Brown
I have always known that this office has an amazing group of people working here . . . truly amazing. I have also always believed that when the need arises this group is capable of doing phenomenal things. The incident on Saturday at Sand Lake has only proven this to me.
As a lifelong resident of Tillamook County, the June Dairy Parade holds a special place in my heart, and I was excited to have TCSO well represented in the parade to help show the community what their sheriff office looks like. We had eight vehicles and other equipment planned for the parade. This included a boat, SAR trailer, and ATV’s. There were 11 deputies, three SAR volunteers and myself, all excited to be in the procession. We also had several Deputies and Undersheriff Kelly assigned to assist the city Police with traffic control. However, the best laid plans go out the window when a major crime occurs in our small community.
When it became apparent that we did indeed have a homicide at Sand Lake Recreational Area, and an armed subject at-large, I needed all-hands-on-deck to handle the investigation and keep the public safe. The 911 dispatchers and staff, did an amazing job handling the large amount of requests and notifications from us, while also continuing to dispatch their normal busy summer weekend call load. They are all true heroes.
Working with 911, we notified Sand Lake area residents using the reverse 911 system and also created emergency alerts to every cell phone located in Tillamook County advising of the armed suspect at large. It is my goal to insure your Sheriff’s Office is transparent with the community it serves.
I am also in awe of the commitment of the people that work at TCSO. Our volunteer TCSO Chaplains provided care, solace and assistance to the victim’s family and friends. Our nightshift Deputies and Sgt. stayed on for hours after having worked an entire shift the night before. Multiple deputies and other staff members came in on their days off to help on scene, getting important information to the public, helping in dispatch by manning tip lines, helping to transport and support the victim’s family members, and to cover the upcoming nightshift. There was never a single complaint, even by those that had been working more than 17 hours straight. These are the type of people Tillamook County has working for them every day.
We had multiple agencies come in to assist and they worked seamlessly with us to secure the crime scene and perimeter, and capture the suspect. These agencies included Tillamook City Police, Manzanita Police, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsboro Police, Oregon State Police, United States Coast Guard, US Forest Service, and Near Space Corporation for flying their drone. Nestucca Fire-Rescue, Tillamook Ambulance and Life Flight all provided emergency medical services throughout this incident and Nestucca Fire opened the doors to the Sand Lake Fire Station for use as needed.
We were processing a homicide crime scene, shutting down Sand Lake on a busy weekend and actively trying to catch a suspect – all with poor radio coverage, virtually no cell service, and multiple agencies assisting. Yet, everyone knew what needed to be done and the experience, determination, and drive that this office, and our partner agencies showed, was nothing short of remarkable.
Although I was saddened to not be able to make the June Dairy Parade as planned, it seems TCSO was there in spirit. I have received several reports that when our second cell phone emergency alert sounded on every single spectator phone simultaneously, announcing the capture of the armed and dangerous suspect, whoops, hollers and applause could be heard along the entire parade route! This display of community solidarity illustrates the true nature of the people of Tillamook County and its relationship to their Sheriff’s Office.