[The event described here occurred Sunday and into early Monday, May 30 and 31. The Sentinel did not receive the complete information on it until last Tuesday, too late for last week’s paper.]
A man with eight felony prior convictions and a no-bail felony warrant for his arrest led multiple law enforcement agencies on a wild chase on May 30, ending with a dash into the Columbia River, a swim through a culvert, and coercion to surrender only when a police dog was about to be set on him.
That Sunday, the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) received a report of a possible domestic violence situation in the High Prairie area north of Lyle. The reporting party told police a friend’s boyfriend was having a mental health crisis, had armed himself with a weapon, and was coming to the residence to, as he put it, “get his girlfriend.”
KCSO Sergeant Erik Anderson responded to the call and learned the girlfriend was missing a .45 caliber pistol. She showed Anderson a video the suspect had sent to her in which was seen holding the .45 to his head and making threats to kill himself. Shortly after Anderson learned the suspect had eight prior felony convictions that would have prohibited the suspect from possessing firearms and had a no-bail felony warrant.
Anderson was able to make phone contact with the suspect and attempted to negotiate his surrender. The suspect said no. Attempts were made to locate the suspect based on his cell phone’s location but were ultimately unsuccessful.
On Monday about 1:38 a.m., Anderson found out the suspect had been observed driving past the girlfriend’s residence. A short time later, he located the suspect driving westbound in the 300 block of Centerville Highway. Anderson followed the suspect and called for backup.
Sergeant Nate Hovinghoff with the Washington State Patrol responded, and at around 1:50a.m., Anderson initiated a traffic stop on the suspect’s vehicle. The suspect refused to pull over. Multiple attempts were made to use spike strips on the suspects’ vehicle. The suspect was pursued through Dallesport and eventually to Wishram. Several times during the pursuit, law enforcement officers could hear what sounded like gunshots. Deputy Mitch Kegley, Deputy Dusty Vorce, Officer Michael Stelljes with the City of Goldendale Police Department, and Officer Kate Daniels with the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department responded to assist.
Hovinghoff and Kegley set up spike strips across Highway 14 in Wishram Heights and were successful at spiking the tires of the suspect’s vehicle. It then collided with an Inter-Tribal Police Officers vehicle, before continuing down into Wishram. The Inter-Tribal Police Officer was not injured in the collision, and the damage was minor to the officer’s vehicle.
Next, the suspect’s vehicle got stuck next to the railroad tracks on the east end of the railyard in Wishram, bringing all Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad traffic to a sudden stop. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Police Department responded to assist as well.
The suspect barricaded himself inside the vehicle, shooting a pistol out of the windows at times and yelling at law enforcement to “back up.” He told the officers they should kill him and later told Anderson his only intention was to die.
Detective Robert Bianchi responded and attempted to negotiate with the suspect for a peaceful end to the situation. Bianchi is a trained negotiator for the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office.
A SWAT Team from the Washington State Patrol was called in. KCSO Deputy Gaven Marble, along with K9 Profi, also responded. Two Inter-Tribal Police Department boats were deployed. Sergeant Fred Killian, Detective Jason Ritoch, Deputy Erik Beasley, and Deputy Jim Leininger responded. Washington State Fish and Wildlife Officers responded to assist as well. The situation turned into a massive multi-agency operation.
After numerous deployments of chemical agents, impact munitions and flash bangs, the suspect fled from the vehicle into the Columbia River. He had taped the pistol to his hand and fired it as he fled, but not in the direction of law enforcement officers.
The suspect fled along the shore of the river up to a culvert that ran underneath the railroad tracks. He then entered the culvert and swam through the culvert, coming out on the north side of the railroad tracks.
Once on the north side of the tracks, the suspect no longer had the pistol. He was warned that K9 Profi would be deployed if he did not give up. Only then was the suspect finally taken into custody with no further incident.
The suspect was identified as Brandon Fallis, 38, of The Dalles, Oregon. Fallis was booked into the Klickitat County Jail for: unlawful possession of a firearm 2nd degree, attempt to elude police vehicle, intimidating a public servant, malicious mischief 2nd degree, hit and run (attended vehicle), unlawful discharge of a firearm, criminal trespass 2nd degree, obstructing or delaying train, and resisting arrest.
KCSO Sheriff Bob Songer said he appreciated all the law enforcement agencies and officers that assisted in this situation, commending them the officers for their restraint and professionalism.