New charges, violent details emerge in Vancouver officer shooting

New charges, violent details emerge in Vancouver officer shooting »Play Video
James Todd Sapp appears in court Tuesday, July 1, 2014 accused of shooting and wounding a Vancouver police officer during a traffic stop Monday morning.

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The man accused of shooting a Vancouver Police officer also carjacked an elderly couple, punched a woman in the face and caused several vehicle crashes, according to newly-released court documents the On Your Side Investigators obtained Tuesday.

Police arrested James Sapp, 48, for shooting Vancouver motorcycle officer Dustin Goudschaal seven times during a traffic stop on June 30. Officer Goudschaal stopped Sapp in a black Dodge truck near Northeast 162nd Avenue and 34th street and as he approached the truck, Goudschaal told investigators that a man leaned out the driver's side window and shot him.

Goudschaal was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but was released a few days later. He is currently recovering at home. His fellow officers said his bulletproof vest and a couple of neighbors who stopped to help Goudschaal likely saved his life.

Sapp, meanwhile, sped off, setting police off on a frantic search.

Officers said Sapp crashed a few blocks away, and escaped on foot. KATU talked with Gary Arnott, who said he was in his backyard when he heard the crash.

"It sounded like either someone ran a stop sign and was driving fast or hit a house or something 'cause it was big crash," Arnott explained.

Newly-released court records reveal Tricia Belden, who also lives in the area, witnessed Sapp climb over a fence in the backyard of her neighbor's home.

According to court records, Belden asked Sapp, "Who are you and why are you in their yard? Are you the one who crashed the car and why are you running?"

The records state Belden then got in her car and began to follow Sapp, and eventually stopped next to a fellow neighbor who had been running after him. According to court records, when Belden told her neighbor to get in the car, Sapp turned around and approached her car. Court documents said Sapp told her, "Give me the car! Get out!"

Belden told investigators she was in fear for her life and "did not want to die over her car."

Then Belden said Sapp punched her twice in the side of the face during the alleged carjacking attempt. Two neighbors managed to grab Sapp and pull him away from the car, according to court documents.

Belden then told investigators she saw Sapp catch sight of an elderly man, who was later identified as Don Lowry, with keys in his mouth. Documents state Lowry was down the street, walking with a cane and keys to his tan Chevy S10 pickup. Investigators said Sapp pushed Lowry and grabbed the keys from his mouth, then got into Lowry's truck and tried to steal it.

Several neighbors tried to pull Sapp out of the pickup truck, according to court records, including two teens who came out of Lowry's house with a folded shovel. Sapp was hit several times with the folded shovel.

Sapp was able to start the truck and accelerated quickly in reverse, knocking the driver's side door off the truck and injuring a man in the leg and foot when he fell backwards.

Though he managed to drive off, Sapp later stopped the truck next to MetFab Heating on Northeast 28th Street. Court records state Belden followed Sapp in her car after she was allegedly punched, spotted him there hunched over and trying to catch his breath. Documents state Belden drove back to find police and informed them of Sapp's location.

"That was a strange thing to happen in our neighborhood and it was just by luck that they dove in here to try and get away," Arnott said.

Sapp's Tuesday hearing was delayed until July 15 after his court-appointed defense requested more time to review the new charges. Sapp's defense also requested his bail be reduced.

Sapp is in the Clark County Jail on a $10 million bail.

Sapp's New Charges

Also Tuesday, the Clark County Prosecutor filed new charges against Sapp including drug possession and assault.

According to court documents, Sapp's drug charges stem from his alleged possession of several controlled substances found the day of the shooting. Investigators stated that they found 3.5 grams of meth, 38 grams of marijuana and one gram of heroin on Sapp when he was found hiding behind a dumpster.

Sapp also faces the second degree assault charge for injuring a man while reversing out of a driveway, during the alleged carjacking attempt, in a stolen truck.

Sapp was booked June 30 on charges of attempted murder, robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm after the shooting.

Detectives said Sapp is a white supremacist with swastika and "White Pride" tattoos and the On Your Side Investigators found he has a violent criminal past.

Neighbors help wounded officer

Neighbor James Bridger Jr., 43, Was driving his truck and trailer out of neighborhood June 30 when saw what looked like an officer helping a woman in the street. But the closer Bridger got, he realized it was the woman helping the officer.

Bridger said he he stopped and immediately parked his truck to help.

Bridger said the woman, who he later learned was neighbor Earlene "Sam" Anderson, was helping officer Goudschaal apply bandages to his wounds. Bridger said he too applied bandages and then grabbed Goudschaal's police radio to tell 911 that the officer had been shot and needed help. 

"We just focused on making him comfortable and put pressure on the wounds and then I was able to grab his radio and call for help," Bridger told the On Your Side Investigators. "I was told that might have been what saved him."
 
Bridger, a long-time longshoreman and former reserve officer with the Battleground Police Department, said he normally doesn't turn onto 34th Street to get out of his neighborhood, but he had to take a different route because he had a trailer attached.

"I think it was God working through other people," Bridger said.

The following day, Bridger said he visited Goudschaal in the hospital for a brief time.

Eight days after the shooting, the Vancouver City Council honored Bridger and Anderson for their life-saving efforts during the morning of the shooting.

At the ceremony, Anderson and Bridger were given a Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket.

A woman also read a statement on behalf of officer Goudschaal and his wife, reading in part: "I choose to believe, that for whatever reason, those two good Samaritans were meant to be there in that moment to help Dustin, and for this, we are eternally grateful."

During the meeting's intermission, the room broke into applause for the pair.

Watch the Vancouver City Council honor Bridger and Anderson below.