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Death Investigation - Vernonia
R. Stephen Atchison, District Attorney
Columbia County District Attorney's Office
Office: (503) 397-0300

An investigation into the death of a Vernonia man found deceased in a vehicle officers were getting ready to contact Friday night has been determined to be from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators assigned to the Columbia County Major Crime Team, with the assistance of the State Medical Examiner’s Office, have been conducting the investigation in cooperation with the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office over the weekend.
On July 18, 2008 at approximately 11:30 p.m. a report was received of a man with a gun in the Vernonia area. Two Vernonia police officers, Officer MICHAEL CONNOR and Sergeant MIKE KAY, saw the vehicle associated with the call and pulled in behind the vehicle as it was slowing down on Washington Street near B Street. As officers were getting ready to make contact with the vehicle, it stopped and a 20-year old female got out the driver’s side telling officers there was a man in the car with a gunshot wound. The officers confirmed the report and requested medical response.
The man, identified as KOLTON OWEN GRAHAM, age 21, from Vernonia, was pronounced deceased at the scene. He was in possession of a handgun.
GRAHAM was an acquaintance of the female driver. GRAHAM reportedly had gone to the complainant’s residence where the female was at, then confronted the complainant regarding a personal matter armed with a handgun. GRAHAM left the area in the vehicle that was driven by the female when contacted by police.
The Columbia County Major Crime Team consisting of officers from Oregon State Police, St. Helens Police Department, Scappoose Police Department and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, responded to investigate.  Oregon State Police was designated as the lead agency.
On Sunday, July 20th, an autopsy was completed by the State Medical Examiner’s Office and determined the cause of death was from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.