Dismal Nitch sign

The Dismal Nitch rest stop and historical area was the scene of an alleged crime during the July 4 holiday, details of which are starting to come to light.

DISMAL NITCH — Two weeks after insomniacs and other habitual police scanner listeners learned of an early a.m. shooting at the Dismal Nitch rest stop on July 5, the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office on July 19 released a preliminary statement about the incident.

According to Chief Criminal Deputy Pat Matlock and additional sources, a man was sleeping in the bed of his truck when he woke to someone trying to break the windows out of his canopy.

The man, presently only identified as a transient, was armed with a blunt object. The victim then allegedly confronted the man and was then struck with the item multiple times and suffered an injury.

“[The victim] then shot the guy with the club in self-defense,” Matlock said. “The guy who got shot was transported to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria and then was shipped out with a gunshot wound to the abdomen” by helicopter to a trauma center in Portland.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, including personnel from the Oregon side of the bridge, responded to the scene of the shooting, a Washington Department of Transportation rest area that also serves as the Dismal Nitch Unit of Lewis and Clark National Park.

The victim who shot his alleged attacker was released after being interviewed by law enforcement and is not expected to face charges. While it’s only a preliminary finding, the shooting is thus far considered defensive, and authorities think the victim only acted to defend his life against serious injury or death.

“The case is still active,” Matlock said. “However, charges are expected to be filed against the man who was shot.” As of July 19, a probable cause statement had not yet been forwarded to the Pacific County Prosecutor’s Office — one source of delay in the availability of case details.

The suspect survived his injuries, but neither his name nor the victims’ name has been released due to the ongoing investigation.

Washington state has a “stand-your-ground” law, also referred to as a “no duty to retreat.” Courts have historically upheld that a person may use any force necessary to stop a threat of bodily harm or death of themselves or others, including deadly force.

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