Trooper shot flown to Seattle, suspect appears in court

September 23, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington State Patrol trooper who was shot Thursday while on duty in Walla Walla was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment.

Trooper Dean Atkinson, 28, was in stable condition in the intensive-care unit Friday morning after he was shot in the face, The Seattle Times reported.

Someone in a car rammed Atkinson’s patrol vehicle and then shot him, law enforcement officials said.

The person accused in the incident, Brandon O’Neel, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of attempted aggravated murder, attempted assault with a firearm and attempting to elude with a firearm, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reported.

The 37-year-old Walla Walla man was assigned an attorney and had bail set at $1 million during a Friday appearance in Walla Walla County Superior Court. O’Neel has very little criminal history but a high bail amount was warranted due to the seriousness of the offense, prosecutors said.

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His appointed attorney, Julie Carlson Straube, said Friday that it wasn’t yet the time for her to argue for a lower bail amount.

Formal charges have not yet been filed, but Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney James Nagle said he expects those charges to be filed by the end of the day.

A regional Special Investigations Unit is investigating the shooting.

Around 5 p.m. Thursday, O’Neel used his vehicle to ram Atkinson’s marked patrol cruiser and then shot Atkinson, according to law enforcement officials. O’Neel was arrested after a short police chase, officials said.

Atkinson drove himself to a nearby hospital and walked into the emergency room, officials said. About 8:15 p.m., he was taken by ambulance to the Walla Walla Airport and then flown to the Seattle hospital.

The State Patrol said troopers had contact with O’Neel earlier in the day but haven’t given details.