Oregon highway shootout 'out of character' (+video)
Oregon highway shootout: A father of three got into a shootout with an Oregon highway patrolman. A friend of the father said it was "completely out of character."
Portland, Ore. — A clip of a dashboard-camera video released to a newspaper Thursday by the Oregon State Police shows an exchange of gunfire between a motorist and a state trooper that ended with the motorist dead and the trooper wounded.
The motorist had three children in his car when the shooting occurred Aug. 29 on Interstate 84.
The Oregonian obtained the video as part of a public-records request and posted a clip of it online.
The video shows Trooper Matthew Zistel pulling over the car on I-84 and ordering a man dressed in camouflage to return to his vehicle. State police say Zistel stopped the vehicle for speeding.
The video shows the man, later identified as John Van Allen, with a gun in his hand. He assumes a firing stance.
The two exchange shots, and Van Allen is shown running past the camera, then gasping and returning to his car.
He drives away, and his three children — a 10-year-old girl, and two boys ages 13 and 15 — can be seen in the back seat of his vehicle. Van Allen was later found dead inside the car a half-mile from the scene of the shooting. An autopsy showed he died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Zistel was treated at a hospital for a minor gunshot wound and released.
The Sherman County district attorney ruled in September that the shooting was justified. Van Allen's three children have been placed in state custody.
His aunt Deborah Morton-Hamlet told The Oregonian that Van Allen and his children were on the freeway because he had decided to return to South Carolina, where much of his family is from.
Pennsylvania court records show that in November 2010 Allen was granted full custody of his three children and allowed to relocate them, originally, to Orlando, Florida. In 2011, he declared bankruptcy, and listed a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun as a personal possession worth $250. It lists him as divorced with three minor children.
Allen had posted on his Facebook page earlier in the day of the shooting:
"I asked a friend of mine one day you want to go on a trip with me and my children she ask what we going to do when we get there we going to be broke" the post states. "I smiled and walked away. What I should of said was I can only guarantee you a few things 1 my children, myself and you will always be together. 2 we will never go hungry, and lastly our life will always be an adventure..."
Morton-Hamlet said Van Allen came to Portland in October 2012 in hopes of getting a new start. She said he and the children had lived with her for a while but recently moved into their own place.
Still, she said, he hadn't been able to get a job and had decided to leave.
Morton-Hamlet said she learned of Van Allen's death from detectives but isn't clear on exactly what led to the shooting.
"It's just a sad situation," she said at the time.
"It's just completely out of character – it doesn't add up," said Tiffany Still Swiff Haines of Pittsburgh, a friend who had known Van Allen for 20 years.
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