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Questions linger in deadly DCSO shooting

By Barney Lerten
Renee Nelson
Published On: Jul 03 2013 03:13:43 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 06 2013 05:48:36 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Renee Nelson updates a tragic encounter at a home west of Redmond in which a woman fired shots and deputies returned fire, fatally.

REDMOND, Ore. -

The ex-husband of a woman fatally shot by a Deschutes County sheriff's deputy outside a home west of Redmond says she had not displayed any violent tendencies during their brief marriage.

Cindy Shepard died late Tuesday night after being shot by a deputy who had gone there to investigate a report of suspicious activity.

The sheriff's office says the 54-year-old woman ignored verbal commands to disarm and fired multiple shots before she was killed by the deputy.

Dennis Simenson, who separated from Shepard in December, told The Bulletin newspaper (http://is.gd/sUcSWE ) she was creative, good with animals and had a wonderful smile. He says the behavior described by the sheriff's office was "not the Cindy I knew."

The sheriff’s office on Friday identified the 11-year veteran of the force who shot and fatally wounded Shepard.

Deputy Mike Sundberg has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation, Lt. Scott Beard said in Friday’s update.

That follows the agency’s policy as outlined under the requirements of state Senate Bill 111, which directed counties to develop a plan to deal with use of deadly force.

Beard said the Major Crimes Team is completing interviews and compiling reports for the district attorney’s office, which will determine if a use of deadly force was justified in the fatal shooting of Shepard outside a home at 280 SW 67th Street.

Shepard reportedly fired three shots at or near deputies, then brought several guns out of the home.

After several tense minutes,and while a tactical team was being brought in, Sundberg  shot and killed the woman, reportedly when she raised a rifle in their direction, according to unconfirmed scanner reports.

Beard said early Wednesday that the sheriff's office was called to the home shortly before 10 p.m. to investigate "suspicious circumstances."

"During the contact with an adult female, deputies were fired upon," Beard said in a brief news release. "Deputies returned fire and the adult female was pronounced dead at the scene."

Beard said the shooting was being investigated by the region's Major Crimes Team, which includes the sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police, Bend and Redmond police departments, the district attorney's office, the State Medical Examiner's Office and Redmond Fire and Rescue.

Sheriff Larry Blanton talked to NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday, providing some new details (limited by the ongoing investigation) on what transpired at the end of a long gravel driveway, in the front yard of the home.

"Sometimes we have to do what it is we're trained to do, that we hope we never have to do," he said.

"The female was armed, there were shots fired, sheriffs deputies returned fire and a female was deceased at the scene," the sheriff added.

Blanton said deputies were responding to suspicious circumstances in an ongoing investigation.

"We had had very brief contact with the person prior, and then in the course of doing some additional follow-up, the situation escalated, and resulted in a death."

It was a much quieter scene Wednesday. Neighbors did not wish to appear on camera, but said they could hear officers talking to the woman by a bullhorn for nearly an hour.

They also talked with a man who was in the home during the standoff, who was not hurt.

"No other persons were at risk," Blanton said. "It was not a stranger confrontation issue. We're told the lady either resides at that residence or is a long-term guest of that residence."

The first deputies on scene around 10 p.m. radioed that the woman had fired three shots, prompting call-out of the sheriff's office's Special Operations Team, equipped with armored vehicles and shields, among other special equipment.

A family member had called police to the home, and they soon learned an elderly man was inside, on an upstairs floor.

Unconfirmed police-scanner reports indicated the woman went into and out of the home several times and brought out several handguns and rifles, placing them on the ground as police called in reinforcements.

Firefighters at a nearby Redmond fire station were told to shelter in place and to turn off their lights.

Officers tried to talk to the woman, as she sat outside with a rifle in her lap and the other guns nearby.

Word of the fatal shooting came shortly after 10:30 p.m.

Deputies -- from a distance – then tried to track her condition, according to the unconfirmed scanner traffic, reporting movement, crying and shallow breathing. As she rolled over, face-down, they apparently were unsure if she still had a gun in her hand.

They also asked her over a loudspeaker to roll away from the several guns still laying around her, some apparently within five or 10 feet.

After the woman was shot, it took until shortly after 11 p.m. for an armored SOT unit vehicle to reach her. Police were able to then secure the scene and call up medics.

Soon, CPR was being performed, as a Life Flight helicopter landed nearby around 11:20 p.m. But word came over police radios that medics had pronounced her dead about 10 minutes later.

Meanwhile, operations team deputies were able to enter and search the home, finding the 87-year-old man inside, apparently unharmed.

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