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Eugene man fled capture, police say.

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

MANZANITA - A Eugene man has been arrested on a felony charge of attempting to elude and lodged in the Tillamook County Jail after officials found him hiding in brush near a crashed and stolen BMW near Manzanita on the Oregon Coast, state police said.

The arrest is the latest incident in a long criminal history for Matthew Owen Reniff, now 36, who has been in and out of jail or prison for most of his life. In 1995, he earned the distinction of being the first Lane County juvenile sentenced under Measure 11, the get-tough mandatory minimum law approved by voters the previous year, for his role in an armed robbery of a credit union in Eugene.

Before Tuesday night's chase, Reniff was being sought for allegedly taking a hatchet to the front glass doors of the Nike shoe store in the Tanger Mall in Lincoln City, police told the Lincoln County News.

The vandalism occurred after closing hours. After another man walked by, pulled out a .45-caliber pistol and told Reniff to stop, Reniff became frightened, ran to the parking lot and jumped into a luxury BMW, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

At about 10:15 p.m., a state police trooper then attempted to stop Reniff, headed north on Highway 101, for failure to display headlights. Instead, Reniff sped away, state police said.

Local agencies were notified to be on the lookout. A Tillamook County deputy saw the 2006 BMW just north of Wheeler and unsuccessfully attempted to deploy spike strips.

The vehicle continued north, where the Manzanita police chief saw it. Reniff attempted to elude Manzanita police on North Fork Road, where he lost control and crashed his car, police said.

Reniff then fled on foot into a swamp, police said. During the early morning hours Wednesday, officers spotted him in heavy brush.

At approximately 5 a.m., Reniff surrendered and was taken into custody. The BMW was determined to be stolen out of the Eugene area.

A Washington County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit assisted in the search for Reniff, and the U.S. Coast Guard had a helicopter with thermal imaging camera at the ready if needed, police said.

Reniff was charged with attempting to elude by vehicle and by foot, driving a stolen vehicle, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and driving while license suspended.

Reniff's run-ins with the law have been plentiful. A year ago February, Linn County deputies closed Highway 34 west of Lebanon for about three hours to find and take into custody a man - later identified as Reniff - who had falsely claimed that he was driving a car wired with explosives, according to a report in the Albany Democrat-Herald.

In 2001, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported that Reniff, then 23, was among nine inmates who shaved their heads and staged an uprising at the Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla. The uprising appeared to be the work of a white supremacist gang angry that one of its members had been locked in segregation, according to the prison superintendent.

Reniff was sentended to 7 1/2 years in prison for his role in the robbery of a Selco credit union near the Valley River area of Eugene in 1995. Reniff, who wielded a gun in the robbery, was an escapee from the MacLaren Training School for juvenile offenders, The Register-Guard reported at the time.

Reniff was the first Lane County juvenile sentenced under Measure 11, which allowed mandatory prison terms for certain convictions for adults and juveniles down to age 15.

Register-Guard Copy Editor John Thompson contributed to this report.
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Title Annotation:Crime; Matthew Owen Reniff is jailed in Tillamook County, law authorities say
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 12, 2014
Words:599
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