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Police: Suspect escapes precinct after cleaners open door

January 4, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man suspected of attempted murder who escaped a secure room in a Portland police precinct may have gotten out after a COVID-19 cleaning crew opened the door, police said.

Police arrested David Dahlen on Saturday on suspicion of ramming a stolen pickup into an officer on Dec. 24. The Portland Police Bureau said Monday that while Dahlen was in a holding cell in the detectives division, a crew doing COVID-19 disinfection opened the door and then closed it when they saw him.

Preliminary investigation shows the door didn’t fully latch and investigators believe Dahlen pushed it open and exited the building through a stairwell, police said.

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Surveillance video showed him running away, police said. Police had not found Dahlen as of Monday afternoon and are asking the public to call 911 if he is seen.

Dahlen is suspected of driving into Portland police Officer Jennifer Pierce, who was hospitalized with a fractured pelvis.

When officers tried to box in the stolen truck at a gas station, the driver rammed into Pierce as she stood outside of her car, according to witnesses. Pierce was pinned between the truck and her patrol car. The pickup driver then backed up and struck her again.

Pierce then fired her gun at the truck. The pickup, which had been stolen from a Portland auto shop, was found abandoned shortly afterward.