PORTLAND, Ore.—A Christmas Day shooting that left a woman dead triggered a car chase and gunbattle in suburban Portland that critically wounded an Oregon State Police officer and killed the slaying suspect, who had a troubled home life, authorities and court records said.
Trooper Nic Cederberg, 32, an Army veteran who has been with the department for seven years, underwent surgery Monday and remains in critical condition, state police said on their Facebook page.
The incident began when police in King City found the woman’s body after responding to a call about shots being fired late Sunday, Washington County sheriff’s Sgt. David Thompson said.
The suspect, James Tylka, 30, was seen driving away and officers pursued him, police said. The chase ended with an exchange of gunfire about 20 miles south of Portland.
Authorities did not release other information about the chase and shootout, except that officers from three police departments were involved and have been placed on paid administrative leave, a routine move.
But details emerged about Tylka’s problems at home. He was locked in a protracted dispute with his former wife over custody of their son and child support payments, according to court records.
Social media and court records indicate he was married to Kate Armand and that the couple had a baby girl.
Tylka posted a photo on Facebook early this month of the couple kissing in happier times and commented: “We aren’t divorced.” Someone responded that she hoped they work things out.
Police have not released the name of the woman he is believed to have killed, but Megan Armand told media outlets that the victim was her sister, Kate.
“We are still in shock and devastated from last night’s events,” she said in a statement. “My heart is broken from the loss of my only sister. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the wounded OSP Officer and his family.”
Several Facebook posts by Kate Armand’s friends expressed grief, describing her as a good person and an amazing mother to the nearly 1-year-old girl.
Tylka updated his Facebook profile photo shortly before his death, displaying a picture of the couple. He also updated his cover photo, showing his two children, a boy and a baby daughter.
Tylka’s ex-wife, Sabrina Starks, had filed for immediate temporary custody of their son in September, saying the boy was in danger of potential abuse. She said Tylka spoke about suicide in September 2015, drawing a call to police, before leaving town for four months.
Starks wrote in the custody request that they agreed to joint custody in May 2016 but he had been acting irrationally, impulsively and aggressively, constantly pressuring the boy for updates about what she was doing.
She said the boy was crying when she picked him up on Sept. 5 and that he told her Tylka yelled at him and a grandmother.
“I asked him what he meant. (The boy) stated, ‘If I don’t tell Daddy what you do, he yells at me and sends me to the corner. I told him no, and he yells until I tell him,'” she wrote.
A judge denied Starks’ request for immediate temporary custody. They divorced in April 2011, court records say, but it’s not clear when Tylka married Kate Armand. Starks mentioned the marriage in her custody request, however.
Mike Rowe, a spokesman for the police department in nearby city of Beaverton, said Tylka was a cadet there between 2004 and 2006. Rowe said he does not know why Tylka left the program.
Earlier this month, an auto dealer filed a small claim against Tylka, saying he owes $450 for a down payment of a vehicle.