Investigators ID man shot and killed by police in Vancouver

By Troy Brynelson (OPB)
June 6, 2023 12:30 a.m.

Questions still remain about the shooting, but court records show how a bowling alley burglary and a gas station robbery played a part.

Officials have identified a man shot and killed by police officers in Vancouver on May 30 outside a grocery store.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office said on Monday that Joshua James Wilson, 43, died from multiple gunshot wounds in a parking lot. Police said at the time he was a suspect in multiple armed robberies and he fired on officers before he was killed.


A statement issued on Monday by law enforcement offered new details about the robberies and indicated Wilson pointed a firearm at police. It did not mention him shooting first.

Three Vancouver police officers and a Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputy all opened fire. Investigators have not named the officers. They have also not said how many shots they fired.

A Vancouver police car is pictured March 14, 2019, in Vancouver, Wash.

A Vancouver police car is pictured March 14, 2019, in Vancouver, Wash.

Bryan M. Vance / OPB

Wilson was killed after police apparently attempted to surprise him as he left a grocery store. According to police, a Vancouver detective spotted Wilson driving around 5:30 p.m. and followed him to a shopping center. Police said they tried to arrest him as he left a Safeway.

“Officers identified themselves and ordered Wilson to stop, but he fled westbound on foot,” a statement from officers investigating the shooting said on Monday. “Videos show Wilson reaching behind his back and officers then call out that Wilson had a gun. Wilson is seen on video pointing a pistol directly at a uniformed police officer and is then engaged with gunfire.”

In video recorded by a bystander and uploaded to social media, multiple armed officers ran through the parking lot, confronted Wilson and began firing a volley of shots within seconds. The man shot is not visible in that footage.

Vancouver officers wore body cameras at the time, Chief Jeff Mori confirmed to OPB last week. Mori has the discretion to release the footage but said he does not yet know when he will do so.

The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, a group of law enforcement officers charged with independently reviewing the shooting, said in its statement that it would not be releasing video from the shooting “until the involved officer interviews have been completed.”

Investigators did not ask a question about whether the involved officers have seen the footage already.


The major crimes team said on Monday that Wilson was a suspect in a May 20 commercial burglary, as well as armed robberies on May 21 and 29. All of the incidents took place in Vancouver.

Wilson was already under Department of Corrections supervision, according to court records. He has past criminal convictions in both Oregon and Washington, according to court records, including assault, theft, burglary and domestic violence.

Court records suggest Wilson was embroiled in other criminal activity this spring.

His most recent criminal charge stemmed from a March incident in Kalama. A woman, whose neighbor had been raided by a SWAT Team earlier that day, reported suspicious cars parked in her driveway.

Cowlitz County Sheriff’s deputies responded and eventually came upon Wilson carrying a loaded Sig Sauer pistol. When deputies pulled out their pistols, he lost his footing and dropped it.

When they searched his car, according to court filings, they found a loaded rifle with a silencer, 40 grams of methamphetamine, another firearm and ammunition.

Wilson faced multiple charges of unlawful firearm possession, criminal trespass, obstruction of law enforcement and concealing a dangerous weapon. That case was set for a hearing in June.

But Wilson soon posted bail and apparently traveled south to Clark County. In May, Vancouver police began to suspect Wilson was involved in the various robberies.

Court filings show that Vancouver police believed Wilson, along with another man, burglarized local bowling alley Allen Crosley Lanes. Security camera footage caught a man — later identified as Wilson — appearing at 4 a.m. Detectives believed “he had been in the bowling alley during open hours and hid until after closing time.”

A girlfriend of the other suspect later told detectives that Wilson invited her boyfriend to drive him to the bowling alley during open hours.

According to the reports, the suspected burglars failed to break into a safe but caused more than $750 worth of damage.

The next day, detectives believe, Wilson walked into a Mobile Gas Station and placed a black pistol on the counter. He reportedly wanted money and cigarettes, according to the cashier, and made off with about $130 and a couple of packs of Marlboros.

Court filings surrounding the May 29 robbery were not available.


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