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Cowlitz County officer killed in shooting

(KIRO 7 image)

A Cowlitz County deputy was shot and killed Saturday night while attempting to contact a disabled vehicle blocking a rural road in Kalama.

The deputy was identified as Justin DeRosier, 29, from Kelso.  The shooting happened at 10:11 p.m. in the 100 block of Fallert Road. The officer responded to a disabled vehicle blocking the road and was shot shortly after arriving. The officer received lifesaving efforts at the scene.

“Over the radio he announced that he was being shot at,” said Sheriff Brad Thurman, “and been hit.”

Several officers and deputies responded. He was airlifted to PeaceHealth Medical Center in Vancouver where he later died during surgery. DeRosier passed away early Sunday morning before his wife and parents could arrive.

“But they were able to spend some time with him shortly thereafter,” he said.

Deputies said they have a person of interest in the shooting and are continuing to investigate and follow up on other leads.

At about 5 p.m. Sunday, investigators staged a raid at a house on Vincent Road in Kalama. Flash-bangs were thrown into the house, but when officers evenutally went inside, no one was there.

At about 7 p.m. that night, there was an officer-involved shooting during an “encounter with a suspect” in the area of Spencer Creek Road. Gunshots were fired and the suspect was killed by officers. No officers were injured.

So far, all authorities will say is that the suspect’s death is related to the death of Deputy DeRosier, and that Vancouver, Wash. police will investigate.

“The loss of a dedicated law enforcement officer in the line of duty is an unspeakable tragedy,” State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a Sunday statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with Deputy DeRosier’s family, and with the investigators on the case.”

Deputy DeRosier graduated from Kelso High School in 2008, got his degree at WSU four years later. He was made a Cowlitz County Sheriff’s deputy just three years ago.

Those who know him said he died doing a job he loved.

“He loved his job,” said Cowlitz County Undersheriff Darren Ullman, fighting back tears. “He was incredibly good at it.”

The 29-year-old deputy is from a prominent Cowlitz County family. His grandmother was the longtime county auditor; his family owns DeRosier Trucking. Getting on with the sheriff was a kind of homecoming. He was to begin training in July to become a part of the drug task force.

Undersheriff Ullman said he watched as DeRosier grew into a deputy devoted to his chosen career.

“He had that presence that couldn’t be overlooked,” said Ullman. “And he will be with us forever. And he’ll be truly missed.”

This community is already rallying around DeRosier’s family. An online meal train has been set up and the organization ‘Behind the Badge’ is helping plan his funeral.

DeRosier became a father for the first time in October. His 5-month-old daughter, Lily, and his wife are among the many loved ones he leaves behind.

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