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Deputy dies in exchange with gunman at motel.

Byline: JACK MORAN The Register-Guard

CURTIN - A Douglas County sheriff's deputy was killed in the line of duty Saturday morning after exchanging gunfire with a man at a motel in Curtin.

Sheriff's officials expressed shock over the death of deputy Morris Taylor, 38, who was shot after responding to a nonemergency call of a man performing lewd acts at the Star Dust Motel, at 455 Bear Creek Road in northern Douglas County.

"We lost a deputy today," said Pam Frank, public information officer for the Douglas County sheriff's office. "No one expected this, since it was a nonemergency call. It did not appear that there would be any violence."

The suspect, believed to be staying at the motel, also was killed in the shootout, Frank said. Officials withheld his name because his family had not been notified.

After receiving a report that a man was masturbating in public view, Taylor arrived at the motel at 7:40 a.m. and talked to the suspect. Taylor returned to his patrol car to make a radio call, and another deputy arrived. Taylor was told that the suspect had a gun in his possession and as both deputies approached the man, he showed a rifle, the sheriff's office said.

Gunfire was exchanged, and both Taylor and the suspect were killed. Taylor had been wearing a bullet-resistant vest when he approached the single-story motel.

The suspect had paid for a two-night stay Friday evening, motel co-owner Tajinder Kalkat said.

Motel guests ducked behind mattresses when they heard the shots.

``I don't know how many shots. It was constant. Maybe six to 10,'' motel guest Ben Chau said.

Chau and five family members from Richmond, British Columbia, were in the room next door when the gunfire began.

``I woke my kids, pulled my mattress up and hid the kids behind,'' he said. ``I told my wife inside the washroom to just lay down.''

Frank said as a standard practice when an officer is involved in a shooting, Oregon State Police is the lead agency in the investigation. No further information about the shooting was made available.

Taylor had served in the Douglas County sheriff's office since 1999 and was assigned to the Drain area. He previously worked for the Coquille Police Department and a San Diego area police agency.

The last time the Douglas County sheriff's office lost an officer in the line of duty was in 1985, when three people were killed in a helicopter crash while conducting a marijuana-eradication investigation. Sheriff's Cpl. Virgil Knight, Sgt. Gerald Cherrick and pilot Ron Terwilliger died when the helicopter struck a power line and crashed.

``People are down, depressed and hurting. When you lose one of your own it's going to affect you,'' Sheriff Jim Main said. ``I sat down, talked and cried with deputy Taylor's wife.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Title Annotation:Crime
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 15, 2002
Words:477
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