The Columbia press. (Astoria, Or.) 1949-current, July 17, 2020, Page 6, Image 6

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    July 17, 2020
T he C olumbia P ress
Letter to the editor
Officer deserves major apology
The very public destruction
of Warrenton Police Officer
Robert Wirt’s stellar reputa-
tion by community members
is mind-boggling.
Rumor and falsehoods, per-
petuated in a Facebook post
by a community member,
caused Officer Wirt untold
misery by the community’s
rush to judgment. Moreover,
the owner of the establish-
ment where the incident al-
legedly occurred, summarily
banned him (June 19, The
Columbia Press front page
article). Judge, jury and rep-
utation-executioner of an up-
standing community police
officer. Talk about vigilante
An independent, outside
investigation by a reputable
law firm proved the allega-
tions against Officer Wirt
were unfounded and false.
I applaud City Manager
Linda Engbretson and Po-
lice Chief Matt Workman
for their level-headed ap-
proach to discern fact from
fiction by contracting with
an outside entity for this in-
Those who perpetrated and
perpetuated this travesty
need to do the right thing by
publicly apologizing to Offi-
cer Wirt: the Facebook post-
er who is a community mem-
ber, the owner of Bubba’s,
and anyone else in Warren-
ton who spread this vile false
Mary Ann Brandon
Legal ad
In the Matter of the Estate of DEAN GERALD DYKSTRA, Deceased
Case No.: 20PB04175
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Daniel G. Hartzell has been appointed
personal representative of the Estate of Dean Gerald Dykstra. All persons
having claims against the estate are required to present them, with vouch-
ers attached, to the undersigned personal representative c/o Lawrence,
Lawrence & Queener P.C., 427 S. Holladay Drive, Seaside Oregon 97138,
within four months after the date of first publication of this notice or the
claims may be barred.
All persons whose rights may be affected by the proceedings may obtain
additional information from the records of the court, the personal repre-
sentative, or the attorney for the personal representative, Benjamin F. Law-
rence, at the above address.
Dated and first published on July 3, 2020.
Benjamin F. Lawrence
Attorney for Personal Representative
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Officer: Investigation finds no misbehavior
Continued from Page 1
side of Wirt’s face, then Wirt
turns his head and leans back
and away from the man’s
hand. Wirt’s hands come off
the bar as he leans back to
avoid the man’s hand.
• In Salcedo’s original ac-
count, he said a buddy was
roughhousing with Wirt and
had put an arm to his neck.
Wirt put his hands up in the
air. In a second Facebook post,
Salcedo adds that the officer
looked around for someone to
challenge him, which appears
to be an exaggeration of the
movement Wirt made to lean
away from the man.
• Several witnesses observed
that the friend had been drink-
ing, which is consistent with
his movements, which appear
unpredictable and unsteady.
“This provides a reasonable ex-
planation for why Wirt would
back away to avoid him,” Starr
• Although Salcedo is consis-
tent in his view that he heard
the words “I can’t breathe”
multiple times, it was loud
in the bar and he was 14 feet
away. There was music coming
from overhead speakers and
plexiglass panels obstructing
both his view and the sound.
• None of the other witness-
es corroborate the statement,
“I can’t breathe.” In the video,
an unidentified customer be-
hind Wirt turns her head to
look at what’s going on, but
her body language suggests it
warranted nothing more than
a glance as she does not react
or lean over to talk to anyone
as if she saw something un-
usual. Another unidentified
customer sits with his back
directly to Wirt and has no re-
action at all.
• Salcedo’s brother, Jesse,
was closer to Wirt and heard
• Before the man put his
hand on Wirt’s neck, he leaned
across Wirt to shake the hand
of another customer seated
next to the off-duty officer.
“When Juan reviewed the
security video with me during
the investigation, he stated
credibly that he could not see
the handshake … from his van-
tage point and that it altered
his original perception,” Starr
The security camera looks
down instead of diagonal-
ly across the bar at eye level,
which was Juan Salcedo’s van-
tage point. The handshake oc-
curs at or below the level of the
“I also give weight to the fact
that Juan volunteered to me
that he carries a bias against
police and acknowledged that
I might choose to give his
statement less credibility as a
result,” Starr wrote. “He did
not wait for me to discover that
on my own (perhaps via his so-
cial media posts). That leads
me to conclude that Juan held
the genuine belief that what
he posted on Twitter was ac-
curate, although he may have
rushed to judgment based on
his own perceptions.”
Juan Salcedo was surprised
about the attention the mat-
ter received, Starr wrote. His
brother’s Facebook posts,
which amplified the message,
received even more reactions.
“None of the witnesses at
the bar recalled hearing any
talk from Wirt or his associ-
ates about George Floyd, Black
Lives Matter, or any of the
current political topics to sug-
gest that the comment ‘I can’t
breathe’ was at the forefront
of their minds that Saturday
night,” Starr wrote. “Nor did
the complainants or any of the
witnesses even express a con-
cern about Wirt holding a ra-
cial bias when interviewed.”
In the radio interview, Wirt
said his reputation has been
destroyed, he’s lost thousands
of dollars and a barbecue side
business. He’d even run a bar-
becue on Superbowl Sunday a
few weeks before the incident
in the parking lot at Bubba’s
Sports Bar.
electrician to help determine
whether the cause of a fire’s
origin is electrical.
“John comes from a fami-
ly that is very familiar with
firefighting,” Alsbury said.
“John’s father, John Sr., was
very involved in the fire de-
John Shepherd Sr., who
died in September, retired
from the fire service after 28
years, 14 of them as Ham-
mond Fire chief.
Watson became a firefight-
er while attending Warren-
ton High School. After grad-
uation, he joined the Marine
Corps and served in Iraq
during Operation Desert
Storm. After his service, he
returned to Warrenton and
quickly became active as a
volunteer firefighter.
In 2010, Watson was hired
as Warrenton’s first paid fire-
“Scott, too, excelled as a
leader and quickly became
the assistant fire chief,” Als-
bury said. “Scott has been
an exceptional employee and
has shown his leadership
skills daily.”
WFD: Two longtime firefighters promoted
Continued from Page 1
to make the department run
more efficiently and effective-
The promotions were made
effective July 1.
Shepherd was hired as a
training captain for WFD
shortly after the merger of
the Hammond and Warren-
ton fire departments.
He excelled as a leader
within the department, Als-
bury said. Shepherd also is a
member of the Clatsop Coun-
ty Fire Investigation Team,
using his skills as a certified