A hostage situation turned fatal on Sunday afternoon when a Nyssa man who was holding a woman against her will was shot and killed by police officers who were responding to the situation.
According to a news release from Malheur County District Attorney David Goldthorpe, dispatch received a call from a family member of the woman at about 12:20 p.m., saying that a man was holding her against her will and had a knife and was threatening to kill her. The victim was identified as Carlen Mercado, 51, of California, and the man was later identified as Henry Martinez Jr., 49.
Goldthorpe confirmed that two were in a relationship.
Officers responded to the 500 block of Southeast 13th Street and shortly thereafter, a hostage situation developed, according to the news release.
The district attorney said the address is a residence that is tucked inside the storage unit property and not visible from the road.
Police set up an incident command post nearby, and attempted to negotiate with Martinez and make contact with the victim or confirm she was alive.
“After hours of failing negotiations” and no contact with the victim, the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team organized and attempted entry into the house “with the purpose of protecting and removing Ms Mercado.”
The team used a flash bang and gas to attempt to get Martinez to come out. Instead, the release states, he ignored all police commands and threatened physical violence with a knife held toward police officers.
Police ultimately fired several shots and life-saving measures by emergency personnel were unsuccessful; he was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime.
Once inside, police discovered that Mercado had been killed, with evidence indicating “she had been deceased for some time.”
Since his deputies were involved in using force during the incident, Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe arranged for Oregon State Police to lead the investigation, and notified Goldthorpe, who arrived on scene to assist as needed.
The investigation continues today, and will include interviews of the deputies involved, as well as review of camera footage.
Autopsies for Martinez and Mercado have been scheduled.
Once Goldthorpe has reviewed all of the information from the investigation, including the camera footage, he will make a decision about whether to present the officer’s actions to the Grand Jury.