Washington State Trooper Heather Axtman speaks with TV reporters about an officer-involved shooting in Oak Harbor. Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker is in the background. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

Man shot by officer in Oak Harbor was armed, police say

A man who was shot by a police officer today in downtown Oak Harbor was armed and had been assaulting a woman, according to police.

Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker and Washington State Trooper Heather Axtman spoke about the shooting in front of TV cameras in Oak Harbor this afternoon. Axtman is part of the Skagit Multi-Agency Response Team, which is investigating the shooting.

The man who was shot is a 21-year-old Oak Harbor resident. The officer who shot the suspect is a “very well respected” member of the department, Dresker said. The officer has a military background and has been with the department for two years.

The officer responded to 911 calls at about 8:52 this morning of a man with a gun who was forcibly holding down a woman, Axtman said. Eventually nine Oak Harbor officers and deputies with the Island County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene, which is in the area of Hal Ramaley Memorial Park on Bayshore Drive.

Shots were fired after police arrived, Axtman said. She confirmed that the officer did shoot the man, hitting him in the arm. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

No officers were injured. The woman is OK, Axtman said.

Dresker said he immediately contacted SMART to handle the investigation. The officer who fired the shot is on administrative leave during the investigation, which Dresker said is standard protocol.

Downtown Oak Harbor was buzzing with activity all day as police cordoned off the block to investigate and Seattle media descended on the area.

“Two cops shot past me as I got to work, and then there were all these gun shots, and I thought, ‘What is happening?’” said Talon Xenis, barber at Yonder Sea. “This is supposed to be Oak Harbor.”

Mary Amerson, resource specialist at Spin Cafe, said she was at work when the incident took place, but she didn’t hear the pops of the firearms. However, after a friend called to see if she was OK around 10:30 a.m., Amerson locked the doors. Spin Cafe reopened around 2:30 p.m.

The area of the shooting is a common site of 911 calls involving homeless people. Axtman said she didn’t know whether the people involved may be transients.

Daniel Warn contributed to this report.

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