New Details posted Nov. 22
Court records now reveal the intense moments of the hunt for Kevin James Reynolds, who law enforcement described as an ‘armed and dangerous’ wanted felon.
Following several days of an intense manhunt that began in Cowlitz County, moved into Columbia County and ended in Clatsop County, deputies captured Kevin James Reynolds without incident around noon Thursday, Nov. 17.
On November 15 Reynolds brandished a gun at several deputies as they approach a house in the Rainier area with a search warrant. He then kidnapped a woman at gunpoint, shot the gun at a passing driver in an attempted carjacking, and fled, according to KATU's summary of the court records.
Reynolds was lodged at the Columbia County Jail in St. Helens as of Tuesday, Nov. 22. He faces several criminal charges including:
• Second Degree Kidnapping
• Reckless Endangering
• Unlawful Use of a Weapon
• Fugitive from Another State
• Carrying Concealed/Possession Firearm
• Second Degree Burglary
• Attempt to Commit Crime
Following several days of an intense manhunt, a wanted felon described by law enforcement as ‘armed and dangerous’ is in custody.
Deputies captured Kevin James Reynolds without incident around noon Thursday, Nov. 17, according to the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office. Specific details of the arrest were pending at press time.
The search began Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the Rainier area last week after Cowlitz County notified the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office that Reynolds was possibly in the area of Heath Road and Old Rainier Highway.
Reynolds was wanted on multiple criminal charges in Cowlitz County including robbery, assault, vehicle theft and witness intimidation.
During the Tuesday manhunt, Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley said the Oregon State Police SWAT responded to the location and used distractionary devices, loudspeakers, and drones equipped with Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR). The search included K9's from St. Helens Police Department and Longview Police Department.
"The suspect did fire his gun at a passing car that was hit. The driver was not injured," Pixley told The Chronicle.
He later told KATU News that the suspect had taken a woman hostage, fired a weapon and fled the scene. Deputies freed the woman and got her medical treatment, KATU reported.
As the search intensified Tuesday, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office posted a Facebook alert to residents in the area.
"Reynolds is considered to be armed and dangerous. Residents in the area are asked to secure their homes and stay inside. If you spot Reynolds, call 9-1-1," the Facebook post stated.
Pixley issued a statement shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday night, stating that law enforcement had completed a search including buildings, homes, and property west of Rainier in an attempt to locate Reynolds, but he was not found. The search was suspended that night but resumed Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 16.
"Someone believed they saw a male subject matching the suspect’s description via a security camera," Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley said. "We covered the area between Apiary Road to Elk Creek Road and from Cannon Road to Highway 30."
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police, Scappoose Police, St. Helens Police, Rainier Police, Kelso Police and Vernonia Police were involved in the Wednesday search from approximately 12 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Due to the manhunt, law enforcement advised the Rainier School District to go into a lock-in. The district remained closed Thursday. Rainier School District Superintendent Joseph Hattrick posted a message on the district’s webpage about the incident.
“We were contacted by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department to go into a lock-in,” the message stated. “A lock-in is where nobody is permitted to enter or leave the building due to a situation outside. Our students and staff were safe and there was no immediate threat to the students.”
In his message Hattrick said that at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, the district began to release students to parents/guardians.
“The Rainier School District was in continual communication with law enforcement and we were informed at approximately 4 p.m. that the search perimeter had been removed and the suspect was not located,” Hattrick said. “We understand the stress this has placed on our students, staff, families, and community. Additionally, we do not have clear information about the whereabouts of the suspect. As a result of the unknown whereabouts of the suspect and in an effort to keep people in their homes, the Rainier School District will be closed Thursday, November 17, 2022. All activities will also be cancelled.”
The Rainier School District was expected to resume normal operations Friday, Nov. 18, but due to a staffing shortage, the schools remained closed.
Following the capture of Reynolds, The Chronicle reached out to Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley for insight into this case and what appears to be a rise in violent offender cases in the area.
The Chronicle: It seems Columbia County is seeing more and more dangerous felons fleeing to our area from Cowlitz County and other surrounding areas. Specifically, this case with Reynolds, the case with the suspect that hit the OSP patrol car injuring the trooper, and the suspect that was fatally shot at Grumpy's Towing. Why do you believe that is?
Brian Pixley: There appears to be an increase in crimes statewide. There are many reasons for this increase, including the decriminalization of major drug classifications, a lack of mental health care, bail reform that requires early release for some crimes and lack of proper resources for law enforcement.
The Chronicle: How are these incidents helping to strengthen the partnerships between the CCSO and other law enforcement agencies?
Pixley: CCSO has a strong partnership with many local law enforcement agencies. We are all limited on funding and already rely heavily on one another, but working major incidents together develops stronger personal and professional relationships
The Chronicle: Overall, what would be your suggestions to residents and business operators about this sort of danger that can happen anywhere, anytime. And your specific recommendations to anyone who might find themselves in such an incident?
Pixley: My suggestion to businesses and residents is to get involved. Make sure your voices are heard at the local level. Speak with your city council members and your board of county commissioners to ensure law enforcement and mental health are properly funded. Also, speak to your state and federal legislators to ensure they understand what is important to the people they represent. Together, we can accomplish great things.
Join the conversation. Post your comments with this story at thechronicleonline.com.