RAINIER, Ore. – The man accused of killing the popular police chief of a small Oregon town was released from a hospital and booked on an aggravated murder charge on Thursday, authorities said.
Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says 21-year-old Daniel Butts was jailed after being released from a Portland hospital, a bullet still in his back after a Wednesday shootout with police in Rainier.
Butts was wounded the day before as officers swarmed a car audio shop in Rainier, where the town's police chief, Ralph Painter, had been shot. The 55-year-old chief had gone to the shop to investigate a report of an attempted car theft.
Two officers fired at Butts, but Dickerson said it's not known which one hit him.
It's unknown if Butts has an attorney. If convicted of aggravated murder, he could face the death penalty.
Butts is from Kalama, Wash., about 10 miles upriver from Rainier.
On Thursday afternoon, a procession of law enforcement vehicles left the office of the Oregon state medical examiner south of Portland to convey Painter's body back to Rainier, about 50 miles northwest of Portland along the Columbia River. Officers parked their cars on and near overpasses.
The Oregonian newspaper reported that the medical examiner said the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.
Authorities haven't said exactly how the chief was shot or elaborate on the sequence of events at Rainier Sound Authority on Wednesday morning.
Dickerson said prosecutors asked him to keep mum.
"I would love to be able to tell you the story of what happened out there and the heroism of the officers who were out there," he said.
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