The Vancouver Police Department has identified the officer who exchanged gunfire with a motorist early Tuesday morning.
The police department said in a news release that the involved officer is Keith Kircher, 32, who was hired in August 2019. Kircher is assigned to West Precinct patrol. He previously worked as an officer for the Maui Police Department from August 2016 to July 2019.
Kircher is on critical incident leave, per standard department protocol.
The incident began about 1 a.m. near the intersection of East Fourth Plain and Grand boulevards when Kircher saw two vehicles in the intersection possibly exchanging gunfire, according to the police department. One car was driven by a man, the other by a woman.
The man began driving west in the eastbound lanes of Fourth Plain Boulevard. He continued driving on the wrong side of the road after seeing Kircher following and reportedly fired at the officer, who returned fire, according to the department.
The suspect then took Interstate 5 south into Oregon, with Kircher and the female driver following. Kircher pulled over in the area of Jantzen Beach to be treated for minor injuries from flying glass. The female driver stopped and explained she and the suspect are in a domestic relationship.
A while later, the suspect’s vehicle was spotted on I-5 northbound at the Fourth Plain Boulevard exit and was found unoccupied near the freeway and Vancouver VA campus, police said.
The Southwest Washington Regional SWAT team responded and searched the area using a K-9 tracker, but the man wasn’t located. The suspect still has not been found as of Thursday morning.
The Vancouver Police Department Major Crime Team is continuing to investigate. Officers are continuing to search for the suspect, police department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said in an email. Anyone who may have information related to the incident, and who hasn’t spoken with police, should contact Detective Jason Mills at 360-487-7425.