A state trooper was shot in the head at point-blank range while on a routine call early Saturday, and now the Washington State Patrol has launched a manhunt for the gunman.
In an afternoon update, WSP Chief John Batiste said the injured trooper's condition continues to improve, and the State Patrol announced a $26,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.
The incident began shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday along Highway 103 near 12th Street in the coastal community of Long Beach.
Trooper Scott Johnson was inventorying the contents of a vehicle about to be towed when a man walked up, said WSP spokeswoman Krista D. Hedstrom.
There was a short verbal exchange between the subject, Johnson and the tow truck driver. The gunman suddenly pulled out a small-caliber handgun and fired twice.
Johnson suffered two gunshot wounds, including one to the head.
The trooper was able to return fire as the gunman fled the scene, but it is unknown if the suspect was hit.
Johnson was rushed to Ocean Beach Hospital in Long Beach, then was transferred to Oregon Health Science University in Portland.
Hedstrom later reported that Johnson is alert and conscious at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital.
And in an afternoon update, Batiste said the trooper continues to improve.
"I am incredibly relieved to see Scott doing so well," Batiste said. "Despite having been shot in the head, he was laughing and joking with those around him. His behavior today sets a new standard for professionalism and heroism."
Johnson is a 25-year veteran of the State Patrol. He has worked in the Pacific County area his entire career.
The tow truck driver was not hurt.