Jared Cowley (KGW), Evan Watson
HILLSBORO, Ore. (KGW) — Dante James Halling, 60, pleaded guilty to six counts of attempted murder Friday and was sentenced to 45 years in prison for shooting and wounding two Washington County Sheriff’s deputies near Henry Hagg Lake in 2019.
Judge Beth Roberts said she imposed the maximum sentence possible because she said it was clear to her that Halling intended to kill the deputies.
“Judge Roberts sent an important message today — that criminals are still punished in Washington County, and we will not tolerate violence directed at law enforcement or other first responders,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey.
Dozens of law enforcement officers were present at the Washington County Courthouse for Friday’s sentencing, including one of the deputies who was shot. Jeremy Braun spent 18 months in recovery after the shooting and had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat. Before the sentence was handed down Friday, he testified in court.
“Not a day goes by when I’m not in pain,” Braun said. “I’m in pain right now.”
Then, speaking directly to Halling, Braun said he’s “thriving” and his children will be able to defeat “evil like you.” Braun added, “I will also say, I forgive you,” and talked about how his Christian faith led him to forgiveness.
Halling responded and said he felt great remorse. “To Mr. Braun, for whatever it means, I am deeply sorry,” he said. His attorney said Halling wasn’t aware in the moment that he was shooting deputies and thought he was under attack. After the shooting, Halling was diagnosed at the hospital with acute methamphetamine intoxication after a toxicology report showed a large amount of meth in Halling’s body.
On Aug. 8, 2019, the sheriff’s office received a call about a theft in progress from a home in Gaston, north of the lake. The homeowner reported a man outside the house stealing long gun rifles out of a locked cabinet on their property.
A tactical negotiations team helped the homeowners get out of the house. While they cleared the home, they found Halling armed and trying to get into the back door of the house. When he saw the deputies, he ran into a forested area near the house.
The tactical negotiations team followed Halling into the woods and when they approached him, he started to fire, shooting Braun in the chest and neck and another deputy, Chris Iverson, in the side and left elbow. Braun’s injuries were severe and he had to be flown by helicopter to a hospital. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said he nearly died several times. Iverson’s injuries weren’t life-threatening.
Halling was eventually shot in the lower abdomen by other law enforcement officers and taken into custody. He was released and booked into jail after a nearly two-week stay in the hospital.
In February 2020, KGW spoke to Braun about the first six months of his recovery. His carotid and jugular were punctured in the shooting and he said he suffered two strokes and spent months in rehab re-learning simple tasks, like walking, talking and swallowing. Braun said he was overwhelmed by the support he received and vowed he would return to work.
“There’s a lot of things that could’ve kept me from coming back to work,” he said. “I’m coming back to work and I will serve this community again.”
Eighteen months after the shooting, Braun returned to work in February 2021.
According to court records, Halling had a criminal history dating back to the 1990s, including convictions for bank robbery, drug charges and felon in possession of a firearm.
Court records also indicate that Halling attacked Portland police officers in April 2015 with a fire extinguisher and a 20-inch-long steel wrench while being taken into custody on burglary charges after breaking into an industrial dock house on the Willamette River.
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