UPDATE (Thursday, Feb. 21, 1:14 p.m. PT) — A 16-year-old teenager who was shot by a Vancouver Police officer Tuesday night at an east Vancouver apartment complex has died.
Vancouver Police officers were responding to a domestic violence call and to reports of two people involved in an altercation near the 1200 block of Southeast Ellsworth Road around 11 p.m. Tuesday when they encountered the 16-year-old male.
Police said Cpl. Roger Evans shot the teenager after he brandished a knife and did not respond to requests to drop it. The teen was treated at an area hospital but did not survive.
Family friend Conner Bloxham identified the boy as Clayton Joseph in a post on Facebook.
“It was so hard for me to believe at first, just knowing Clayton,” Bloxham told OPB by phone Wednesday night. “He’s the last person on Earth I would ever imagine getting involved in this.”
Bloxham met Joseph and his family while doing missionary work from 2015 to 2017 in Chuuk, one of the Federated States of Micronesia.
“They were like my immediate family there. So I got to know Clayton really well,” he said.
In exchange for teaching him Chuukese, Bloxham would help Joseph with his English. Joseph eventually left Chuuk last year to join his mother in Vancouver, Washington, where he hoped to get a better education than he would back home. He attended Evergreen High School.
“In Chuuk, there’s not a lot of opportunities for jobs, there’s not a very good education system,” said Bloxham, who’s now studying at Brigham Young University–Hawaii in Laie. “And so a lot of them do come to the United States to seek better opportunities.”
Citizens of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are allowed to live and work in the U.S. without a visa under the Compact of Free Association, or COFA. In exchange, America has exclusive military control over the entire Micronesian region.
Oregon and southwest Washington are one of the top destinations for Micronesians who migrate to the U.S. mainland. According to the 2010 census, Pacific Islanders were the fastest-growing ethnic group in Oregon.
Bloxham said Joseph’s family wants people to know that their son was not out to cause trouble. They believe he was deescalating the situation, not provoking it, and was likely trying to protect the woman from a domestic assault.
“Clayton was a good kid. He wasn’t a trouble maker, he wasn’t one of those kids going around looking for problems,” Bloxham said. “Unfortunately, he got caught up in the middle of this situation and it’s absolutely heartbreaking.”
Cpl. Evans, a 21-year veteran of the department, was not injured and is on critical incident leave, per Vancouver Police Department protocol.
The Regional Major Crimes Team is investigating the shooting.