The Portland Police Bureau said a cleaning crew may have accidentally allowed an attempted murder suspect to escape Saturday from inside its central precinct.
The bureau provided the new details Monday, following David Michael Dahlen’s escape from custody. Dahlen, 24, remains at large and police said they’re trying to find him again.
Portland Police initially arrested Dahlen in connection with an incident on Christmas Eve. That evening, officers responded to a report of a stolen pickup truck at a gas station in Southeast Portland. Later, Dahlen rammed the truck into a squad car. The collision injured Officer Jennifer Pierce, who sustained a fractured pelvis. Pierce fired her weapon at the truck before it fled the scene.
After Dahlen’s arrest Saturday, he was brought to the detective’s division at the Portland Police Bureau’s central precinct.
Around 5:30 p.m., detectives discovered Dahlen had escaped the room where he was being held.
Police said they believe a cleaning crew briefly opened the door to the room where Dahlen was being held, not realizing he was in there. The cleaners were contracted to sanitize areas where suspects are held to reduce the risks of COVID-19, police said.
After the cleaners saw Dahlen was inside the holding room, they shut the door. But, police said they don’t think it latched, allowing Dahlen to later escape. Once outside the holding room, Dahlen found an unlocked door that lead him to a stairway and left the building through a side door. Police said the door was unlocked for fire safety reasons.
When detectives learned Dahlen was gone, the police building was put on lockdown. They searched the building and learned after watching security footage he had escaped. Police said they also searched downtown and public transit but were unable to find Dahlen.
As of Monday afternoon, police were still searching for Dahlen, who is white, around 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighs around 170 lbs. Police said they do not believe he is a threat to the community, but are seeking information to arrest him.