The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Neita Cecil
Gorge News Reports 

Airport burglar held at gunpoint


Contributed: Rolf Anderson

CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Darren Lacock, left, was photographed by his boss as he held an intruder at gunpoint early Friday morning at the Dallesport airport. Broken glass is visible on the chair, floor, and table, and a box of York Peppermint Patties sits in the foreground where it was thrown. Lacock said he didn't have his finger on the trigger. "Until he becomes a threat, my finger is not on the trigger," he said.

Darren Lacock helped with Project ELFF Thursday night in Dallesport, where he's a volunteer firefighter, and a few hours later, found himself holding a burglar at gunpoint at the regional airport.

Lacock, 45, is the line service technician at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport, and at 2:38 a.m. Friday morning, he got a call from one of the airport managers reporting loud crashing going on in the terminal building.

By 2:44 a.m., Lacock had a man spread-eagled on the ground and had placed a call to 911 informing them of such. The airport manager, Rolf Anderson, who had called Lacock and then 911 when he heard the disturbance, took a picture of Lacock holding the man at gunpoint.

Anderson lives in the Portland area, but as luck would have it he decided not to go home Thursday night because of icy roads and stayed at the terminal.

At first, when Anderson heard noise, he thought someone was frustrated because they couldn't get into the public bathroom. "Then it got loud. Then it got real loud."

After receiving the call, Lacock raced to the terminal and came to the front doors and looked through the windows. He saw a man behind the counter rummaging through things, his pockets "stuffed full of our candy."

Lacock ran around the east end of the building to the back. He came to another window, which had a closer vantage point on the intruder, and took out his 40mm Glock and tapped it on the window.

The man was so startled that the large box of York Peppermint Patties he was holding was flung over the counter and landed on the floor, where he'd soon find himself spread eagled.

Lacock yelled at him to come to the front of the counter and he quickly stepped to a nearby broken out window - nine of them had been shattered - and ordered the man to the ground.

Lacock stayed outside the building, with his weapon trained on the man inside. "I was keeping enough distance between me and him so I could react."

Christopher Wirshup, 25, was arrested on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree attempted theft and second-degree malicious mischief, according to the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office.

According to the Goldendale Sentinel, in May 2014 Wirshup was arrested after allegedly threatening to shoot a man in a domestic dispute. The paper said Wirshup was involved in a confrontation with a woman when another man intervened. Wirshup allegedly pushed the man, who stabbed him in the arm.

"Witnesses say Wirshup bandaged his wound and got a gun, threatening to shoot the man," the Sentinel wrote. Police were called and a gun was recovered and Wirshup was charged with second-degree assault related to the gun threat and fourth-degree assault for the incident with the woman. The man with the knife was deemed to be acting in self defense and was not charged.

Wirshup did not have a weapon on him when he was arrested Friday morning. Because Klickitat County deputies were slowed by icy conditions, a Wasco County deputy and a The Dalles city officer responded to the call.

Lacock said the man had been rather "nonchalant" as he was stuffing candy in his pockets, but when he saw Lacock with his gun, "he all of a sudden got that panicked look on his face."

As he came around the counter to lay down as ordered, Lacock could see the man momentarily consider running.

The moment he drew his weapon, "I just started praying to God that he wouldn't do anything stupid that would force me into having to make that decision" to fire his weapon, Lacock said.

As he lay on the ground, the man "began babbling nonstop" he said. At one point, "he even said, 'I just woke up. It's not me, I didn't do this.' Honest to God, that's what he said."

At one point, Lacock could see the man was again thinking of making a move. "He started shaking really bad and he pulled his arms and legs in close to his body and I looked at him and said, 'You're about to make a bad choice. I need you to spread your arms and legs out."

He complied.

Lacock said he always carries a concealed weapon - he's licensed to do so in Oregon and Washington - but he never thought he'd be pointing it at someone. "My intention was never, ever to shoot anybody," he said. "I'm a personal believer in being prepared.

"For me, it's just a matter of, it's my comfort factor knowing it's not always about me, my safety, it's for the people around me. If harm's going to come to them and I have an opportunity to make a difference, that's what I'm gonna do."

Shortly after calling 911-he'd asked the man his name and relayed it to dispatchers, who recognized it-he asked the operator if he could hang up, since he was holding a man at gunpoint, and the operator said yes.

In about 10 minutes, a Wasco County sheriff's deputy showed up.

Lacock started to withdraw his weapon when the deputy arrived, but the deputy said, "'No, no, no, keep on pointing it.' And he searched him and handcuffed him."

When the deputy rolled the man over, he crushed open two cans of Mt. Dew he'd stashed in his pockets. The carpet still bore the wet spot Friday mid-morning. Also taken were some Gatorades and several candy bars.

The man had lost both shoes. One was found on the back porch, and the other slipped off his foot when he got to the ground.

Lacock said he always maintains a vigilant stance, which he attributed to the fact that both his parents were police officers and "people were vindictive toward them."

Friday morning the building was boarded up and had black tarps on windows on the western and northern sides.

They found 10 bricks inside, plus a chair that had been flung through a window.

One brick was thrown hard enough to go through a screen, double-paned window, sheetrock, and then dented a grill in the Red Racer Café at the terminal.

Another brick was thrown through a window and sailed across a room and damaged a shelf. Lacock said, "I figure we stopped him in time before he trashed the place."

-Neita Cecil writes for The Dalles Chronicle


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