Folks who planned on enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon in Philomath City Park last weekend instead witnessed a chaotic scene unfold as law enforcement chased down a man who ended up in Newton Creek and was arrested on a felony warrant.
Harley William Richard Dunn, 22, a transient from the Albany area, was arrested and transported via ambulance to the hospital before being taken into custody by the Oregon Department of Corrections. Based on updates to an online victim information and notification service, it appears that Dunn was transferred to the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem on Thursday morning.
Dunn was convicted in 2020 on felony burglary, weapon and tampering with a witness charges and had recently been released from prison.
The situation that led up to the incident began at 12:54 p.m. when Philomath Police received a call from an Albany woman who claimed that her car had been stolen and based on the location of her daughter’s cellphone, which had been left in the car, was tracked to Philomath City Park.
Philomath Ofc. Brandon Thurman responded to the call and learned that earlier that same day, the vehicle had been involved in a pursuit by the Albany Police Department. The car, registered both to the Albany woman and her daughter, was later reported as stolen at the Albany station.
But unknown to them, Albany Police said they had witnessed the daughter driving the vehicle during the pursuit, dismissed the claim that it had been stolen and arrested her for eluding a police officer.
During his call with Albany Police, Thurman not only learned those details but also that a male suspect had reportedly been seen pointing a gun outside of the passenger-side window. Thurman said that the mother told him that she had driven by the vehicle and believed that she had seen Dunn but wasn’t sure.
Philomath Police discovered that Dunn was wanted on a statewide felony parole board warrant, which came with cautions about a history of resisting arrest, eluding police and carrying weapons, Thurman said.
The warrant prompted police to move forward with making contact with the man and if it was Dunn and the arrest occurred, the mother could then have her car back. Because of the severity of the warrant, which would immediately return Dunn to prison, police knew that they could have a dangerous situation on their hands.
Thurman said that he and Philomath Ofc. Jim Weikel, who was also on duty, met in a parking lot to decide how to approach the suspect.
“We decided that due to the cautions with this guy, we called the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and they came down to assist us,” Thurman said. “One of their guys who was on duty and close by was a drone operator, so we were able to get a drone.”
The BCSO deputy launched the drone from a nearby location to get a visual on the vehicle, which was located in the eastern section of the park.
Police approached the vehicle, a white Volvo, at about 1:40 p.m. with one man nearby and another inside in the passenger seat.
“It ended up being Harley in the passenger seat and he was taking a nap or whatever he was doing … He got out, jumped up on the hood of the car and took off running across the park,” Thurman said.
Thurman said Dunn ran toward residences that border the park.
“He’s a fast guy but what was great about it was we already had the drone in the air so we were tracking him,” Thurman said.
Dunn made his way along the line of homes, went behind the park caretaker’s residence and eventually ran toward Newton Creek, Thurman said. A BCSO deputy deployed his stun gun, which had no effect, but then the suspect ended up in the water near the bridge over Applegate Street.
“He saw us and ran into the creek, which was flowing pretty fast with all of the rain and snow and was cold,” Thurman said. “He hit the creek and he went into a seizure.”
The police learned that the man had a history of seizures and medics were called to the scene. Philomath Fire & Rescue responded with an engine and three personnel along with a duty officer. Rich Saalsaa, deputy fire chief who was at the scene, said crews carried the man up the creek’s embankment to a Corvallis Fire ambulance and transported him to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.
After searching the car and finding drugs, including heroin and possibly fentanyl, and drug paraphernalia, police theorized that he could’ve gone into a seizure after hitting the cold water with drugs in his system, Thurman said.
According to police, a handgun in the center console and a rifle in the backseat were also found in the vehicle. Further charges against Dunn were pending as of Wednesday.
The other individual who was near the vehicle, a 38-year-old Corvallis man, had unrelated warrants and was cited and released, a police report shows.
Said Thurman, “I’m sure it was quite the scene for everybody on a Sunday afternoon who were out and about.”