‘My training saved my life’

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  • CHRIS CHAFFEE/Special to the Press Former Rathdrum Police Honor Guard Officer D.J. Duke salutes during the national anthem at Rathdrum’s Memorial Day celebration in 2016. Duke, who now works for Milwaukie Police in Oregon, is recovering from being shot in the line of duty.

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    Duke

  • CHRIS CHAFFEE/Special to the Press Former Rathdrum Police Honor Guard Officer D.J. Duke salutes during the national anthem at Rathdrum’s Memorial Day celebration in 2016. Duke, who now works for Milwaukie Police in Oregon, is recovering from being shot in the line of duty.

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    Duke

When Officer D.J. Duke came within 3 feet of the man who tried to kill him, his training took over.

"My training saved my life," said Duke, who worked for Rathdrum Police for seven years.

Duke was involved in a shootout April 13 as an officer for the Milwaukie Police just outside Portland.

"When I came face to face with the suspect, I stepped off line and drew as I was moving. The first shots went right by me."

Duke was then shot once in his left leg and suffered shrapnel wounds in the same leg as well.

The suspect, Douglas J. Teter, 30, remains in custody at the Clackamas County Jail on a $500,000 bond. Teter faces charges of attempted murder, second-degree assault, resisting arrest and unlawful use of a weapon. He was not shot during the shootout.

Duke is recovering from the injuries at home, going through physical therapy. He’s using crutches.

"Every day I'm getting better," he said in a phone interview with The Press. "The best-case scenario of returning to work is the beginning of June."

Duke, 39, was hired by Rathdrum Police in 2011. In 2016 he became the long-awaited school resource officer for Lakeland Joint School District's facilities in Rathdrum. He was selected as Rathdrum Police's Employee of the Year in 2017.

"Officer Duke did a great job building relationships with the students and staff and was well-liked," Rathdrum Police Chief Tomi McLean said. "All the staff and employees with the city have been praying for a quick recovery and are wishing the best for him and his family."

Trent Derrick, Lakeland High's principal, said it didn't surprise him that Duke faced a dangerous encounter while on duty.

"He had shared with us many times how it was one thing to carry a weapon and another thing to face a life-threatening situation and possibly having to use it," Derrick said. "He took this responsibility very seriously. He was a big part of Lakeland High School during his two years with us."

Jimmy Hoffman, Lakeland High assistant principal, said Duke, who is married with three children, is "an amazing guy and even better husband and father."

"He always came to work with a great attitude while keeping the safety of our students and staff forefront in his mind," Hoffman said.

Chris Larson, spokesman for the Northern Lakes Fire District, called Duke "one of the nicest guys I met."

"It’s terrible that the men and women who took an oath to serve and protect our communities are under attack," he said.

Teter matched the description of someone in an earlier call involving an armed suspect, according to the police department. Teter was walking near the Milwaukie Safeway when Duke approached the suspect, who had warrants for DUI, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, interfering with a police officer and more.

"When I told him he was under arrest for the warrants, he disobeyed my commands," Duke said.

Duke used a Taser stun gun on Teter, but it wasn’t effective, according to the police department.

Duke said a foot pursuit then ensued and shots were fired.

After Duke was shot, back-up officers arrived to search for the suspect, the officer said.

"He got rid of his gun and ran about a block away and hid under a truck," Duke said. "He was uncooperative with my back-up officers, but they were able to take him into custody after a Taser was used."

Duke was transported to OHSU Hospital.

He said he’s been "surprisingly calm" since the incident.

"I'm looking forward to going back to work when I'm able to," he said.

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