A man committed suicide Wednesday after shooting at police during a standoff at a Reedsport motel.
Benny Shawn Lee Pishione, who police say was in his late 40s, shot himself in the head with a .38 caliber revolver after police entered his room at the Fir Grove Motel.
Pishione had locked himself in the room when police contacted him around 9 a.m., following a domestic dispute that happened in Coos Bay early Wednesday morning.
Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said Pishione approached his estranged girlfriend as she left her job around closing time at the Silver Dollar Tavern with a brick in his hand.
Frasier said Pishione’s estranged girlfriend was in her car with another man when Pishione walked up and threatened to smash the brick through her window. The woman let Pishione into the car, and he ordered her to drive.
Another bystander in the parking lot of the Silver Dollar saw the incident and called 911 to describe the vehicle, Frasier said.
North to Reedsport
Frasier said all three people in the car then drove to Douglas County, where they talked “for a while.” The woman ultimately convinced Pishione to get out of the car, and she called police.
Pishione had been arrested for violating a restraining order protecting the same woman. Frasier said he also had been arrested on burglary charges, which were dropped, after he allegedly broke into the estranged girlfriend’s house with a gun.
Fraiser became involved in the case because Pishione was wanted for a crime committed in Coos Bay. So when police needed a search warrant to enter Room 27, Frasier applied for it in Coos County Circuit Court.
At that point, the Douglas County District Attorney asked Frasier if he would advise officers about the legality of their actions.
Coos Bay police contacted Reedsport police early Wednesday morning and asked them to be on the lookout for Pishione. Reedsport Police Chief Mark Fandrey said an officer checking motels found that Pishione was staying at the Fir Grove.
‘Pretty pleasant,’ ‘calm’
Linda Woodworth, who checked Pishione into at the motel, said he seemed “pretty pleasant” and told her he had just gotten off a bus and would meet friends to go fishing in Winchester Bay the next morning.
When police attempted to contact Pishione around 9 a.m., he tried to escape through a back window but couldn’t get out of the room. Reedsport police called for backup, and Pishione refused to come out or open the door.
Fandrey said they reached Pishione, who they knew had a “history of violence,” by phone, and that he “seemed calm.” Pishione asked to speak with the estranged girlfriend, and Fandrey said they got her on line.
She pleaded with Pishione to come out, but he refused.
School locked down
Fandrey said police responded to the nature of Pishione’s alleged crime.
“We want him in custody for the kidnapping,” he said.
“Our main goal is that he not leave the motel room. For the safety of the woman involved in the domestic situation, he can’t leave the motel.”
Police, assuming Pishione was dangerous and had a gun, decided to put Reedsport Community Charter School on lockdown.
Fandrey said police continued to contact Pishione by phone while they waited for a search warrant from Coos County. They could not simply storm the room without its occupant’s permission.
Around 2 p.m. police from Reedsport, Oregon State Police, and Coos Bay approached Pishione’s room, weapons drawn, with a shield, a K-9 dog and a key to the room.
Police opened the door and sent in the dog. Fandrey said the dog secured the main area of the room. Police then tried the bathroom door, which was locked.
That’s when Pishione fired one round from behind the door, Fandrey said.
Fandrey said as officers were tactically retreating from the room, they heard a second shot. They believe it may have been when Pishione killed himself.
No police officer from any agency fired a round during the 8 1/2-hour standoff. No officers were injured.
Police retreated from the room, leaving the door open, and began to clear the area of about 30 bystanders who were watching from across the street.
Within an hour, the Oregon Department of Transportation detoured traffic northbound and southbound on U.S. Highway 101 in front of the motel.
Police tried to contact Pishione after they entered his room, but were unsuccessful.
SWAT on scene
OSP’s SWAT team arrived around 4 p.m. and planned how best to enter the room. Around 5:15 p.m. — after multiple attempts on a loudspeaker to contact Pishione — Fandrey said SWAT members broke out a back window to the room, and looked to see if Pishione was still alive.
Three SWAT members then entered the front of the room and found Pishione dead in the bathroom with shattered glass from a shower door he had fallen through.
Fandrey said police found writing on the bathroom wall where Pishione died that said, “I’m sorry,” written in what looked like pencil. Fandrey also said there was a note on an open phone book in the room that said, “No justice here.”
Police also found some money in the room with a note that said it belonged to Pishione’s estranged girlfriend, Fandrey said.
The Douglas County medical examiner was still reviewing the crime scene Wednesday night.
Reedsport Mayor Keith Tymchuk said the communication between the police department and the high school could not have been better and that all the students were out of the school by 4 p.m.
Reporters Tim Novotny and Jessie Higgins contributed to this story.
Reporter Tyler Richardson can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.