At 3 p.m. on May 22, a Springfield woman, age 23, called to report a man had stolen a vehicle at gunpoint. She relayed that she had stopped to help a man push a disabled vehicle into a parking lot in the 2100 block of Centennial Plaza. Later it was found the vehicle had been moved from a parking space to the end of the driveway for the business location and almost into the street. The victim helped push this disabled vehicle back into a parking space. After this, the suspect used a handgun to make her transfer his belongings into her Subaru Legacy, then he took off in her vehicle instead of the disabled vehicle.
Multiple officers responded to the area. One officer responded directly to the scene to contact the victim and another officer spotted the stolen vehicle near Pearl Street, where the driver turned onto and drove down the railroad tracks until getting to the Amtrak station. Officers lost the track of the vehicle after it sped south through the parking lot.
An off-duty sergeant saw the vehicle travelling east on Green Acres and passing the Market of Choice and called this into dispatch.
The Street Crimes Unit sergeant observed a suspicious looking man who was wearing clothing matching the suspect's description and walking south from the intersection of Brewer on Norkenzie. He intercepted and contacted the man, identified later as Stephen Thomas Walkenhorst, age 31. Walkenhorst was initially uncooperative but ultimately taken into custody. The stolen vehicle was located approximately two blocks away on Curtis Avenue.
The EPD Street Crimes Unit assisted a Springfield Police K-9 unit with an article search for the vehicle’s keys and the involved firearm. A realistic looking, metal Sig Sauer replica pellet pistol was located inside one of the bags that Walkenhorst was carrying and reaching toward when the SCU sergeant stopped him.
Walkenhorst was transported to Lane County Jail on charges of Robbery in the Second Degree, Elude by Vehicle, and two counts of Unauthorized Use Vehicle.
SCU is funded by the City of Eugene’s Community Safety Payroll Tax and works in concert with communities to help solve issues. The unit focuses on prolific offenders, who are identified through intelligence-based policing, public tips, and other sources. They proactively respond across the city to quality-of-life issues as they arise, using all available resources and partners such as community groups, neighborhood associations and city services. SCU is dedicated to targeting immediate and acute community safety system issues while working toward mission-critical enhancements that need to be addressed through a longer-term and broader community safety initiative.