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Regional Interests

Warrant: Undercover officers trailed suspects for hours before man shot and killed detective

Undercover officers spent hours trailing three people linked to a sizeable guns heist before one of them reportedly shot and killed a Clark County detective, new court documents reveal.

In unmarked cars, investigators with the Vancouver Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office tracked the trio on the morning of the killing from a hotel in Castle Rock, Washington, to a Target store in Jantzen Beach, Oregon.

They even attempted to pull the trio over for a traffic stop in Washington, but the group fled, the documents state. The investigators didn’t pursue but found them again shortly after on the freeway.

Ultimately, their tracking led to an apartment complex in east Vancouver and the fatal shooting.

Prosecutors have since charged Guillermo Raya-Leon, 26, with aggravated murder for killing Clark County Det. Jeremy Brown. They have filed charges against his brother, Abran Raya-Leon, 28, and his brother’s wife, Misty May Raya, 36.

On Thursday, Guillermo Raya-Leon made his first appearance in Clark County Superior Court. He’s charged with aggravated murder as well as possession of a stolen firearm, linked to a June burglary involving his sister-in-law. Guillermo Raya-Leon is being held in custody without bail.

All three have criminal histories.

On June 19, Guillermo Raya-Leon was released from the Marion County Jail due to overcrowding. He was being held on drug charges.

Federal court records show Abran Raya-Leon and Misty May Raya also face federal charges.

An arrest warrant issued Nov. 12, 2020, noted Abran Raya-Leon was indicted on possession of stolen mail and possession of counterfeit postal service arrow keys. The charges against Misty May Raya — or “Misty May Gamble” — remain sealed.

On March 16, Abran Raya-Leon was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and attempt to flee a police officer. He was booked into the Clackamas County Jail and, months later, transferred to U.S. Marshal’s Service custody. On July 15, Abran Raya-Leon was arraigned on the federal charges and released from federal custody the next day. He was subject to GPS monitoring and ordered to not have contact with his co-defendant, his wife, who he was with the night Brown was killed. Some 72 hours after Abran Raya-Leon’s release, he removed his GPS ankle monitor.

Brown, a detective assigned to a regional drug task force, was killed July 23.

Documents obtained by OPB show for the first time the investigators’ movements in the hours leading up to Brown’s death.

The records state the drug task force joined the tracking later in the day to keep the trail hot when undercover officers hit traffic on the Interstate 5 bridge.

While OPB has reported on the shooting’s ties to the June theft of roughly 30 guns from a storage unit outside Vancouver, investigators had not yet explicitly stated why Brown was investigating Raya and the brothers.

The documents confirm Brown was investigating them for ties to the gun theft.

At the Castle Rock hotel, investigators reported seeing the trio load “several heavy suitcases or suitcase-sized bags” into a Volvo station wagon. At the Target store, they moved bags from the station wagon to a friend’s SUV, investigators wrote.

One detective described the bags as “about the length of a rifle,” the documents state.

As OPB has previously reported, it was after leaving Target that Guillermo Raya-Leon became more suspicious that police had tracked them. Both Abran Raya-Leon and Misty Raya talked with investigators after the shooting.

“Both Misty and Abran stated that Guillermo repeatedly and emphatically expressed a heightened concern that ‘they were being followed,’” Clark County prosecutors said in charging documents.

Once the trio arrived at The Pointe Apartments in east Vancouver before 7 p.m., the new documents state, detectives saw them carrying the bags from the SUV to the apartment.

Shortly after, Guillermo Raya-Leon reportedly left the apartment to confront the driver of a maroon Jeep SUV in the parking lot, according to the charging documents. They argued, then gunshots rang out.

After the shooting, detectives followed the SUV as it fled the apartment complex, the documents state. It crashed about a mile away, near the Interstate 205 on-ramp near Padden Parkway. Meanwhile, 911 callers began reporting an officer had been shot.

Brown later died at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

Agencies responding to the shooting — including a regional SWAT team — tracked the suspects to a home on Northeast 76th Avenue. The documents state a police dog found Abran Raya-Leon and Misty Raya hiding in a bush in the home’s backyard. The owner was not home.

While Guillermo Raya-Leon escaped that night, he was caught the following day in Salem.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting