Oregon City police officer dies after being shot at house fire - KCTV5 News

Community mourns fallen officer, neighbors describe shooter's threats

Posted: Updated: Dec 2, 2013 09:11 PM
Deputies think the fire at this Oregon City home was intentionally set. Deputies think the fire at this Oregon City home was intentionally set.
Officer Robert Libke Officer Robert Libke
The home on Linn Avenue is nothing but a pile of rubble after Sunday's house fire. The home on Linn Avenue is nothing but a pile of rubble after Sunday's house fire.
Deputies search the neighborhood in the wake of a house fire and shooting in Oregon City. Deputies search the neighborhood in the wake of a house fire and shooting in Oregon City.
Sheriff's deputies say Lawrence Cambra, 88, shot an Oregon City police officer. Sheriff's deputies say Lawrence Cambra, 88, shot an Oregon City police officer.

The community is mourning an Oregon City reserve police officer who was shot and killed at a burning home Sunday.

Robert Libke, who had been with the department since 2009, was 41 years old.

Libke and a regular Oregon City officer responded to 841 Linn Ave. at 1 p.m. on Sunday after getting reports of an armed man at a house on fire.

The armed man, who deputies have since identified as 88-year-old Lawrence Cambra, confronted Libke and shot him, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said.

Officers and a SWAT team then rushed to the scene in what was described as a "massive police response." Neighboring homes were evacuated, and firefighters also left the area until SWAT could move in. Other neighbors were informed via an emergency notification system to stay in their homes.

A woman who lives nearby said Cambra tried to break into her home.

"He pounded on the house, on my back door, and thank God I had it locked," said neighbor Pam Laird.

While rescuing Libke, the Clackamas County Sheriff's SWAT team encountered Cambra and shot him, deputies said. Cambra died at the scene.

VIDEO: Neighbor captures shooting on home video

Meanwhile, a LifeFlight helicopter rushed Libke to a Portland hospital. A medical examiner confirmed his death Monday afternoon.

A sheriff's spokesman described the current investigation as a massive three-part effort. The ATF, Oregon State Police and Clackamas Fire District are investigating the fire, which is believed to have been set intentionally.

The other two parts of the investigation - the shootings of Libke and of Cambra - are being led by the Clackamas County Major Crimes Team.

Sgt. Robert Wurpes, of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, said the news of one of their own being shot is weighing heavy on officers' hearts as they carry out the investigation.

"At the same time you are dealing with the shock and emotion of an officer being shot, a fellow worker being shot, we've got to get to work. There are things we need to do. It's difficult," he said.

Neighbors said Cambra was a problem for years and even threatened to shoot people who came on his property.

A year ago, his girlfriend filed a restraining order against him, according to court records. The order stated, "He was going to get a gun and get rid of a few people and then himself."

Just two weeks after filing it, however, the woman dismissed the order and moved back in with Cambra.

"He wasn't a very nice man, ever," Laird said.

Another neighbor said they never thought he would go this far.

"It was always a lot of threats," said Dianne Nelson. "But it was never really anything we thought that could come of it until yesterday."

PHOTOS: Shooting scene and procession for fallen officer

The community is remembering the fallen officer far more fondly. Police, firefighters and community members lined highway overpasses for Libke's procession Monday evening, as his body was taken from Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland to Lincoln Memorial Park Funeral Home in southeast Portland.

Several of his neighbors watched the procession from the Holgate Boulevard overpass - just a few blocks from Libke's southeast Portland home.

Neighbors said he made significant contributions to their area by starting a neighborhood watch program after some homes were hit by burglars.

"He was very genuine and was a great neighbor to all of us," said Sandy Smith, who lives on his block. "He brought us out of our comfort area and made us watch out for each other."

Neighbors said Libke's wife is pregnant and have pledged to help her in any way they can. They also said she has family in the area.

Libke, a graduate of Marshall High School in Portland, had worked Evraz Steel in Portland since 1997. He was most recently a general supervisor for the company.

"Rob is the guy who would come into a room and just brighten it up," said Evraz North America Vice President and General Manager Bruce Iredale. 

"He was always positive, and the kind of guy that wanted to help people and make them better. I think that's the reason he was such a good reserve police officer, he was always looking to help people."

"My employees are taking his death pretty hard. Rob was well liked, well respected and a lot of people are close with him.  There's a number of people having a real rough time with this," said Iredale. 

Libke began volunteering his time as a reserve officer in Oregon City in 2009. As news of his shooting spread through the community, the police department received calls, emails and Facebook messages, along with flowers and even cookies, according to Chief Jim Band.

Mayor Doug Neeley, fighting back tears, said Libke was always there when called upon.

"We want to thank all the police officers for their services and all the risks they take on a daily basis," he said.

Libke was the first Oregon City police officer shot in the line of duty in more than 100 years. The last shooting occurred in April 1906, when Officer George Hanlon was shot and killed while trying to arrest a burglary suspect.

Anyone wishing to help Libke's family can donate at any branch of the Clackamas Federal Credit Union to the "Officer Libke Fund." Donations can also be mailed to the Clackamas County Peace Officers' Benevolent Foundation at P.O. Box 426, Oregon City, OR 97045, with checks payable to CCPOBF and the words Officer Robert Libke Fund in the memo line. More information is available at CCPOBF.org.

 Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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