PORTLAND, Ore. – Doctors say an Oregon police officer ambushed during a traffic stop is recovering from gunshots to his pelvis and abdomen that would have killed him if he hadn't managed to call in the shooting to dispatchers, then been rushed to the hospital for surgery.
One of the bullets fired by a man who's still at large severed a major vein, giving 45-year-old Lincoln City Officer Steven Dodds just 15 to 30 minutes to live.
"He was able to call in," Lincoln City Police Chief Steven Bechard said. "That's a testament to his endurance."
Dodds opened his eyes for the first time Thursday and is expected to survive, doctors at Portland's Legacy Emanuel Hospital said.
"He's a strong guy and so stubborn," said daughter Megan Dodds. "I know he's not going to let himself down on this one."
Authorities are scouring the area for David Anthony Durham, 43, who they believe shot Dodds before leading police on a chase along the coast. Police say he's likely armed and may be holed up in a vacation home in a secluded neighborhood less than a block from the Pacific Ocean.
Searchers are focusing on a 3-square-mile strip of land that pokes into the Pacific Ocean.
On Thursday night, the Oregon State Police put their 25-member SWAT team on standby and increased patrols by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and the Newport Police Department, said Lincoln County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Mark Meister.
"There's a lot of anxiety, fear is heightened at this time," Lincoln County Sheriff Dennis Dotson said.
A security video from a convenience store about 30 minutes before the shooting shows Durham decked head-to-toe in green camouflage and a dark beret. Family members describe the 43-year-old as an avid outdoorsman who designs his own camouflage clothing and had become delusional after taking pain medication for an injured shoulder.
Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda said the search team on Wednesday found and surrounded a man wearing camouflage in an area of the peninsula where Durham was last seen, but the man wasn't Durham.
Police issued a warrant on Tuesday for Durham on charges that include attempted aggravated murder. The attack came after Dodds pulled over a 1984 Dodge truck driven by a man police believe to be Durham on a coastal highway. Police used spike strips to stop his truck a short time later and he fled into the woods.
Durham's brother, Michael, told The Associated Press that his family feels terrible about what happened to Dodds and they wish him a full recovery.
"I don't want my brother to hurt anybody. I don't want my brother to get hurt," Michael Durham said. "I would like him to be apprehended peacefully."
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