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Published on Friday February 4, 2011 - 12:46 PM
 
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WALDPORT, Oregon - Police were put on alert Wednesday when they received a credible-sounding report that the man suspected in the shooting of a Lincoln City police officer was sighted near Medford.

Police searched the woods and beaches in the Waldport area on horseback, foot, and ATVs but found clues, at least none they are sharing.

A witness phoned 9-1-1 when she believed she spotted fugitive David Durham, 43, who is wanted for allegedly shooting Lincoln City police Officer Steve Dodds on the night of Jan. 23. Dodds reportedly pulled Durham over for speeding near Lincoln City and was shot during the stop.

Dodds, 45, remains in serious condition at Legacy Emanuel Health Center in Portland. Durham was last seen near Waldport, about 30 miles south of Lincoln City, when he fled into the woods following a high-speed chase with police.

Durham fled into the wilderness along the Oregon coast after allegedly shooting a police officer is an avid outdoorsman who designs his own camouflage clothing, his brother said Wednesday as police search for the suspect on a small peninsula.

David Anthony Durham has evaded capture since Sunday, when police say he shot and critically wounded Lincoln City police officer Steven Dodds during a traffic stop. A three-day manhunt has turned up few clues, other than Durham's dog Huckleberry, who was found Wednesday.

"He's probably waiting for us to leave, but we're not leaving," said Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda said Wednesday morning. "Even if he is a survivalist, he can only survive for so long. He may like to eat bugs and stuff, but that gets old."

Durham's brother, Michael, said his brother liked to camp but wasn't a survivalist.

"He wasn't some anti-government nut expecting a collapse," said his brother Michael Durham. "He had the outdoorsman skills like anybody who spends time outdoors should have."

Michael Durham says his brother lost touch with reality several months ago after taking pain medication for an injured shoulder. David Durham seemed especially struck by a recently released movie about aliens invading a remote Alaskan town, making its resident disappear.

"David, my brother, had thought it was a documentary," Michael said. "It made us do a double-take."

Police issued a warrant on Tuesday for Durham, 43, on charges including attempted aggravated murder. The search has focused on a neighborhood and the woods in a peninsula in Waldport, where residents have said most of the houses are rentals or vacation homes, unoccupied during Oregon's blustery coastal winter. Officers have searched more than 250 houses and acres of wilderness.

Durham's acquaintances knew him as a friendly neighbor on rural Sauvie Island in Portland and avid landscaper who was also a volunteer firefighter. His landlady, Kristi Fazio, told The Associated Press that Durham was always wearing camouflage fatigues when he showed up at her door to pay the rent.

But six months ago, he was moved to "inactive service" within the Sauvie Island Fire District for unspecified emotional problems. He started slipping deeper into a depression after a breakup, friends said, and entertained paranoid fantasies about being pursued by police.

On Friday, co-worker Christina Cowan told the Oregonian that he didn't show up for work, didn't call, and co-workers couldn't find him.

On Sunday night, Dodds pulled over a 1984 Dodge truck driven by a man police believe to be Durham on a coastal highway. A dashboard camera video hasn't been released, but at some point during the encounter, Dodds, 45, was shot more than once.

He managed to call in the shooting to dispatchers.

Durham sped south on Highway 101, with the Pacific Ocean less than 200 yards to his right and the thick beginnings of the Siuslaw National Forest on his left.

Police haven't released the time of Dodds' call, but Miranda said a police chase didn't begin until he reached Newport, 25 miles south. Police alerted an off-duty Lincoln County sheriff's deputy, who lived near Waldport. She laid a spiked strip in the road that shredded the Dodge's tires.

Though three cars were in pursuit of Durham, he managed to climb out of the truck and, dressed in full green camouflage, escape into the woods. His dog, Huckleberry, followed him, but apparently became separated from him and was found Wednesday.

Miranda said he isn't sure how Durham escaped, but said officers in pursuit "wouldn't just bail out" of moving cars, and probably assumed the defensive positions made famous in movie standoffs, with guns drawn, ducking behind car doors.

Inside the truck, police found weapons. They've refused to say how many or what kind, but shortly after running from the police, Durham is believed to have fired on a crab fisherman off the coast of the peninsula. The fisherman suffered a minor shrapnel wound to his forehead that isn't considered serious.

Since then, teams of searchers from state, county and local agencies have hunted Durham. On Monday, the Salem Police Department sent K-9 search teams. On Wednesday, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter will patrol the beach.

"We won't leave until we catch this guy," Miranda said. "Or he turns up somewhere else."