Multiple agencies responded to help locate a man who fled arrest by jumping into the Willamette River and then eluding by swimming and using islands for concealment. Eugene Police investigative units had been conducting surveillance after learning a man wanted by Coos Bay Police for attempted murder and other charges was in the Eugene Area. Detectives located the man, identified as Leslie Clarence Bennett, III, age 51, near River Avenue and River Road. Other EPD units arrived to the area to make the arrest, around 2:09 p.m. During this, Bennett jumped into the Willamette River and was swimming downstream to elude officers, then getting onto an island, and then back into the water. Police advised him he was under arrest and he continued to swim, refusing to come ashore.
At 4:02 p.m. Bennett was taken into custody in the water near the 700 block of Ayers Road with the help of many agencies’ resources: EPD’s Patrol, SWAT, EPD Investigations, drones (from Eugene Police, Springfield Police, and Lane County Sheriff’s Office), Eugene Police and Springfield Police K9s, Lane County Sheriff’s Office Patrol, Eugene Springfield Fire, Lane County Search and Rescue, Oregon State Police, and homeowners with an airboat who offered to take officers aboard.
Bennett was taken to Armitage Boat Ramp to be evaluated by medics, then transported to Eugene Police Headquarters.
A CENS message was sent out during the operation for residences in the immediate area to shelter in place.
Case Number 22-09722