UPDATE (5 p.m. Thursday): Police have released the name of the man who died and the officer involved in the shooting. EPD says the man shot near CHS is Christopher Koziatek. EPD says he had gun knife and hatchet. EPD says the officer involved in Wednesday’s shooting is 40-year-old Aaron Johns. He has been an EPD officer for 15 years.
EUGENE, Ore. — Classes are back in session at Churchill High School after a deadly shooting just outside the school put the campus on lockdown Wednesday.
Witnesses are still shaken up about the incident. Investigators have not said why a school resource officer stopped a man on a motorcycle in front of the fire station. That stop then led to a chase and the man’s death in the nearby school parking lot. But several people are praising that officer for potentially protecting the school.
Churchill parent Dana Itehua was driving home from work on Bailey Hill Road with her son and nephew when they all saw a traffic stop turn out of control.
“He pulled a large knife off the gentleman, and he put it where that red cone is,” she said.
Then Itehua says the man took off running. She says the police officer followed. And, when the officer didn’t return, Itehua and her family got concerned.
“I said, ‘Something is wrong.’ And we came around and pulled to the yellow entrance,” Itehua said.
She says the two men were wrestling between cars with the man on top of the officer.
“My son said, ‘Mom, we got to help.’ I said ok,” Itehua said.
They walked toward the scene.
“My son got up close enough and he said, ‘Do you need help?’ And at the point there was a turn, and it appeared the officer had gained control, and there was a shot fired. It appeared the man was the one who fired the first shot,” Itehua said.
Itehua said she grabbed her son to run. After, she heard four more shots.
“A second later, Officer John sat up and the man was dead,” Itehua said.
Itehua recognized the man’s small motorcycle. She’s seen it before at her complex just up the street. The Churchill Village Apartment manager says the man didn’t live there but was an unauthorized guest. She’d actually called police on him just two days ago.
“My maintenance man saw him walk out with a gun. He called me and I called the police. The cops went over there and talked to him but informed me there’s nothing they could do because it’s not illegal to own a gun,” said Cierra Murphy, Churchill Village Manager.
Whatever the man’s intentions were Wednesday afternoon might never be known. But Itehua and several other witnesses say they are comforted knowing the officer took action.
“I think it was justified. I don’t think any of us want to know the answer of what if he would have gotten into the school,” Itehua said.
The apartment manager says she was told the suspect had terminal cancer and the person he was staying with was taking care of him, but has since been evicted.