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Manic final minutes: Suspect in shooting led police on fevered chase before his death

Of the Keizertimes

Less than a week before Ryan Chapman robbed a Pizza Hut and led police on a pursuit that ended with him being shot and killed he was a suspect in the robbery of another River Road business.

Keizer Police Department (KPD) officials now suspect Chapman was one of two men who entered Cooper’s Deli, 5408 River Road N., and robbed the location of an undisclosed amount of currency and cigarettes on March 9.

One of the men in that incident was estimated to be about 6-foot-3 and carrying a silver handgun, now believed to be the same weapon Chapman was holding when he was shot and killed by a KPD’s Officer Tyler Wampler on Wednesday, March 14. Chapman was 6-foot-4.

Chapman is suspected of playing a part in more than a dozen armed robberies in Keizer and Salem leading up to the fateful robbery at Pizza Hut.

In a press release issued by Brendan Murphy, Chapman was described as fitting the description given to police by witnesses at the robberies and “local law enforcement was told that the suspect was becoming increasingly brazen with his firearm, which was described as a small, silver handgun.” Local police department officers were being told to be on the lookout for a man matching Chapman’s description in pre-patrol briefings before starting their shifts.

On March 14, Chapman entered the Pizza Hut location at 4492 River Road North in Keizer wearing  a black and grey coat with his face covered. An employee of the restaurant told police Chapman pushed a gun into their ribs and demanded cash from the register. Chapman put the money into a black backpack and fled the store on foot.

At 5:58 p.m., another Pizza Hut employee returning from a delivery saw Chapman fleeing, called 9-1-1 and reported they were following a maroon Hyundai without plates that Chapman was driving. The witness continued following the vehicle and giving updates while the call was broadcast over the dispatch connection.

KPD officers Wampler, Carrie Anderson, Dan Carroll and Sgt. Greg Barber all joined the pursuit in marked vehicles with lights and sirens. Chapman led the pursuing officers on a 3.4-mile chase through several residential areas that lasted about four-and-a-half minutes. Smoke was coming off the Hyundai’s tires before colliding with a white Nissan Sentra at the intersection of Chemawa Road Northeast and Springtime Court Northeast. Chapman fled on foot into the cul-de-sac and Wampler pursued him on foot with an AR-15 rifle along with Anderson. The driver of the Sentra was uninjured.

Wampler recognized Chapman’s attire as matching the description of the suspect in other robberies and called to him, “Stop, or you will be shot” and “Get on the ground,” knowing that Chapman had used a gun during the robbery. Chapman reportedly looked back twice, but ignored the shouted commands.

Surrounded by single-family homes and residents watching the scene unfold both, officers testified that they were concerned for their safety and that of bystanders.

Chapman positioned himself between two vehicles in the driveway of 1741 Springtime Court N.E. and turned to face the pursuing officers. Chapman ignored multiple commands to show both his hands and yelled back, “I have a gun.” Chapman refused to drop the weapon. Once Wampler spotted the gun in Chapman’s hand, he fired one shot from the AR-15 hitting Chapman in the head and killing him.

Chapman fell to the ground, but Wampler could see he was still holding onto the silver pistol. Because none of the officers on the scene could determine if Chapman was deceased or playing dead to lure officers into vulnerable positions, Barber ordered the use of a rubber round designed to cause pain but not death.

Officer Eric Hernandez, of the Salem Police Department, was ordered to shoot Chapman with the less-than-lethal round and hit Chapman’s arm dislodging the gun. When Chapman did not respond to the impact, officers approached and requested medical support. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The .22 caliber handgun had a bullet in the chamber, and was later determined operable. At the scene, law enforcement also recovered Chapman’s backpack and searched it where $541 in cash was recovered. It was the same amount taken from Pizza Hut minutes earlier.

A toxicology screening after his death revealed the presence of methamphetamine, opiates, and THC (the psychoactive component in marijuana) in Chapman’s system.

After the shooting unfolded, Oregon State Police investigated the events and 13 witnesses testified before a grand jury that determined the shooting was justified and lawful on Friday, March 23.

Specifically, the grand jury found that the officers reasonably believed the following:

• Chapman had committed and attempted to commit felonies involving the use or threatened use of physical force against a person;

• Deadly physical force was necessary to defend a peace officer or another person from the use or threatened imminent use of deadly physical force;

• Chapman had committed felonies or attempted to commit felonies and under the totality of the circumstances existing at the time and place, the use of such force was justified, and

• The officers’ lives or personal safety was endangered in the particular circumstances involved.

“We thank the grand jury for their careful review of these very difficult circumstances. We further commend the investigative team. They continue to fulfill the important requirements of the Marion County Use of Force protocol, with skill, integrity, and transparency. To all our law enforcement in Marion County, and in particular, those officers who risked their lives on that day: We are grateful that you continue to protect and serve,” said Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau.