A 27-year-old wanted man attempting to carjack a vehicle in south Salem Monday morning led police on a foot chase before he was killed during a gunfight with officers, according to state police.
Police on Monday afternoon identified the man as 27-year-old Michael James Compton.
The announcement came about seven hours after rumors of a shooting first began swirling on social media, and about three hours after the Salem Police Department confirmed that an unidentified suspect had been killed after exchanging gunfire with police.
Police have not said who fired the shot that killed the suspect.
Five Salem officers were put on administrative leave in a routine followed after police shootings. Authorities didn’t say how many of the officers fired at Compton, but recorded audio from the area carried the sound of about 50 gunshots.
The shooting shut down one of Salem’s busiest streets for much of the day and also disrupted Cherriots routes.
The Oregon State Police, the agency investigating the shooting, Monday afternoon released a statement providing an account of the morning violence.
The call to police came around 9 a.m. reporting an armed robbery and carjacking underway in the parking lot of Walmart, 5250 Commercial St. S.E, just south of Kuebler Boulevard.
Dispatchers then relayed to police that the suspect, later identified as Compton, had moved north to the Planet Fitness parking lot, where he tried to steal another vehicle, police said.
As Salem officers responded, Compton fled across Southeast Commercial Street to NAPA Auto Parts, and police followed him, according to the statement.
“A confrontation ensued and the suspect fired at least once at officers. At least one patrol vehicle was hit in the windshield. Officers also fired and the suspect was struck and died at the scene,” the state police statement said.
Around 50 shots can be heard In a video posted to Facebook Monday morning.
Compton died in the parking lot of the auto store, at 5105 Commercial St. S.E., and authorities covered the body as they investigated. An estimated 15 police vehicles from several agencies were on the scene as well.
Police later found a black handgun under Compton and a loaded magazine in his pocket, the statement said.
No bystanders, citizens, or officers were injured in the shooting, according to state police.
The agency identified five Salem police officers involved and their years of service: Justin Carney, 22 years; Robert Acosta, 17 years; Adam Waite, 15 years; Kristy Fitzpatrick, 14 years; and Reece Mathis, 1 year.
All of the involved officers have been placed on paid administrative leave “as is standard in these situations,” state police wrote.
Police said Compton was wanted on multiple arrest warrants from Clackamas and Lane counties, according to the statement.
Compton lived in Clackamas County and had failed to appear in court for two pending criminal cases, court records showed.
In April 2022, prosecutors in Lane County charged him with driving while suspended or revoked, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in a vehicle, attempted assaulting a public safety officer, driving under the influence and resisting arrest.
He was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal mischief in Clackamas County Circuit Court in December 2022, when he was listed as living in Milwaukie. The charges allege he damaged a fence and other items in October 2022, and a warrant was issued for his arrest when he didn’t appear for an arraignment scheduled for Dec. 28, 2022.
He previously pleaded guilty in Clackamas County to reckless driving in 2013; strangulation, menacing and fourth-degree assault in 2016, interfering with a peace officer in 2020; driving under the influence, fourth-degree assault and recklessly endangering another person in 2021; and second-degree theft in April 2022, court records showed.
The state police are investigating the shooting because it involved police deadly force. Marion County requires that an uninvolved law enforcement agency conduct such investigations.
Investigators from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Keizer Police Department were helping with the investigation, state police said.
Results willl be presented to a Marion County grand jury, which will determine whether the officers were lawful in using deadly force against Compton. State police said no additional information will be released to ensure a grand jury can objectively review the incident.
Salem police closed southbound Commercial Street at Kuebler Boulevard, as well as northbound at Southeast Barnes Avenue, just north of the Walmart shopping complex, according to a Salem police statement.
The Salem Area Mass Transit District, also known as Cherriots, put detours in place for routes eight, 18 and 21. A Cherriots bus was taped off inside the scene, but transit officials said the bus carried no passengers and the driver was safe.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.