LONG BEACH, Wash. – A Washington State Patrol trooper who was shot in the head early Saturday while taking inventory of a vehicle about to be towed is expected to survive.
Trooper Scott Johnson was shot shortly before 1 a.m. along State Route 103, the WSP said. A man walked up and had a short exchange with Johnson and the tow truck driver, then pulled out a handgun and shot Johnson twice, including once in the head, the agency said.
The 25-year WSP veteran returned fire, but it wasn’t known if the man was hit. A $26,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the shooter’s arrest.
Johnson was taken to a hospital in Long Beach, then to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland.
Doctors believe his injuries are not life threatening, and he had improved to good condition by Saturday afternoon, said Chief John Baptiste.
“I am incredibly relieved to see Scott doing so well,” Baptiste said. “Despite having been shot in the head, he was laughing and joking with those around him.”
The WSP is seeking a white male, 35 to 40 years old and about 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall.
Johnson was assigned to Pacific County upon graduation from the academy in 1984 and has worked in the area his entire career.
The driver of the vehicle being towed had been arrested for driving while impaired and was taken to a nearby police station. Authorities said they had no evidence the DUI arrest and the shooting are related.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said the shooting was another reminder of why Washington state needs to strengthen the protection of its law enforcement officers.