WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Special investigators offered new details from the Sept. 22 incident in which a suspect shot WSP Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr. in the face and led police in a high-speed chase through the area.
According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in charge of the Southeast Washington region, Trooper Atkinson remains hospitalized from the injuries suffered in his encounter with Brandon O’Neel. However, his condition is continuing to improve with each day spent working toward a full recovery.
Special Investigators also identified Walla Walla police officer Nat Small as the individual who used a maneuver to collide with O’Neel’s vehicle to stop him from fleeing. Investigators found that O’Neel did not suffer any injuries as a result of the crash or his subsequent arrest.
As previously detailed by the SIU, WSP Trooper Atkinson was allegedly rammed by a vehicle and shot by O’Neel at the intersection of Avery St & W Poplar St shortly after 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, 2022. Despite his injuries, the WSP trooper was able to drive himself to the nearest medical facility.
While some investigators gathered evidence at the scene, others pursued the suspect. Police officers in Milton-Freewater, Ore. attempted to halt the suspect moments later.
Walla Walla police officers, including Small, pursued the suspect near the Washington/Oregon border. Small pulled off the maneuver with his vehicle and helped bring O’Neel into custody north of the intersection at WA-125 & Stateline Rd.
Trooper Atkinson was initially treated at Walla Walla’s Providence Medical Center before he was transported to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center for more intensive care.
KING 5 News reported that O’Neel faces a slew of charges including attempted murder, assault and attempting to elude police. Court documents showed that O’Neel was on the verge of eviction and threatened to “execute” law enforcement agents sent to force him from his residence. His bail is set at $1 million and he’s set to appear in court again on October 3.
With 483 donations, the GoFundMe campaign raising funds to help Trooper Atkinson get back on his feet has accumulated $52,158. The organizer says that Trooper Atkinson and his fiance are planning to get married next summer.
An update shared on the GoFundMe via his father, Dean Atkinson Sr., confirmed that Dean Jr. is off almost all tubes and is in fact, taking short walks around the hospital with some help from his loved ones. Below is an excerpt from the victim’s father:
I wish this upon no one and hope Dean Jr’s experience will inspire folks. He is a warrior and my kid. He lives by the State Patrol motto on every car ” Service with Humility” as well as their motto at academy “I will not quit, I will not Die, I will survive.” Most importantly this kid lives by his own motto “always Come home” and will be home very soon. Love and peace and most importantly safety to each of you and trooper 1197 will be home soon.
If you would like to visit the GoFundMe page or make a donation, you can click here to visit the webpage directly.
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