Law enforcement officers Sunday night shot and killed a suspect who is believed to have killed Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputy Justin DeRosier nearly 24 hours earlier, Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman said.
The suspect, whose identity was not made public, was seen tromping out of the woods wet and dirty with a firearm on Spencer Creek Road. Two lawmen shot him and he was declared dead at the scene, Thurman said. The shooting took place around 7 p.m. and neither officer involved was injured.
Investigators had identified the suspect after interviewing two brothers, one of whom was seen coming out of the woods along Modrow Road. They have been identified as Michael Veatch and Matthew Veatch. At this time, they are considered suspects in rendering criminal assistance, the sheriff said.
Sunday night’s shooting concluded a nearly 22-hour manhunt for those responsible for killing deputy DeRosier on Fallert Road just after 10 p.m. Saturday.
DeRosier was fatally shot while checking out a motor home that was blocking Fallert Road, which is 3 miles east of Interstate 5 at the north end of Kalama.
DeRosier died at PeaceHealth Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, a short time after he was flown there by a Life Flight Network helicopter, the sheriff’s office reported.
DeRosier leaves a wife, Katie DeRosier, and a 5-month-old daughter, Lily, his first child.
He is a 2008 Kelso High School graduate and has been a deputy for the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office since 2016. He also was a criminal justice graduate of Washington State University.
DeRosier “was a Kelso boy,” Thurman said.
He was a member of a family with deep Cowlitz County roots. His grandmother, Darlene DeRosier, was a longtime county auditor.
Visibly emotional, Cowlitz County Undersheriff Darren Ullmann said the fallen deputy’s daughter is “always going to know what an incredible man her father was.”
“Most of us have known him most of his life. There were few cops who wanted to be a cop more than Justin did. He loved his job. He was incredibly good at it. And as you can imagine, as I’m obviously showing, this is very personal for our agency.... I had a lot of hope and plans for Justin. I saw him working his way up in this department very rapidly.... Justin was a bull in a china shop.... He had a presence that couldn’t be overlooked. He will be with us forever. And he will be truly missed.”
More than a dozen members of the Patriot Guard riders and American Legion appeared by the sheriff’s office Sunday afternoon to form a flag line in honor of DeRosier.
About 200 to 300 people, many of them connected to law enforcement, huddled at Martin Dock at Lake Sacajawea on Sunday evening to honor DeRosier. They sang “Amazing Grace” and remembered the deputy.
“I never met anyone who didn’t like him,” Layne DeRosier, his uncle, told a reporter, describing his nephew as someone who had a big personality who wanted to be an officer since watching “Cops” as a boy.
“He was a true hero, but he wouldn’t want anyone to call him that. (To him), it was his job. … Heaven is a much safer place with him in it,” he said, struggling to remain composed.
Sarah Bue, a Kelso resident who attended high school with Justin DeRosier, came to the vigil with her 10-year-old son, Elijah, to support the DeRosier family.
“I can’t imagine what his family is going through. I have known him a long time. I feel so bad for his wife and little girl. It really hits home for me,” Bue said.
The vigil was arranged by Katie Fowler, of Longview, at the instigation of her 9-year-old son, Chase Sanger, after they discussed the case in the car on the way home.
“He said, ‘Mom, we have to do something.’ This is what we do. There are bad people out there. This just shows that we won’t back down. Our community is strong.”