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Portland attempted murder suspect escapes after cleaning crew leaves holding room door unlocked

David Dahlen, 24, was arrested Saturday on a warrant for the attempted murder of a police officer.

An attempted murder suspect in Portland escaped from his holding room after a crew hired to disinfect because of the coronavirus accidentally left the door unlocked, police said.

Authorities have been searching for David Dahlen, 24, since Saturday evening. Police said he fled custody around 5:30 p.m. and they have not been able to locate him following an "extensive" search of the downtown area and transit system.

"An effort to recapture Dahlen is underway. There is no reason to believe that he presents a direct threat to the community," the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement.

David Dahlen.
David Dahlen.Portland Police Bureau

Dahlen was arrested around 1:30 p.m. Saturday on a warrant for the attempted murder of a police officer on Christmas Eve. He's accused of striking the officer with a stolen pickup truck and then fleeing the scene, according to NBC affiliate KGW in Portland. The officer suffered a broken pelvis.

Dahlen was taken to the Central Precinct and placed in a holding room while detectives prepared to interview him, the bureau said.

One of the cleaning crew members opened the door to the room to disinfect it but closed it after seeing that the room was occupied. Authorities believe that the door was not fully latched, leaving it unlocked.

"Sometime after the cleaning crew members left, investigators believe Dahlen pushed the door from the inside, found it to be insecure, and got out," police said. "Investigators believe Dahlen found his way to a stairwell, which are unlocked for fire safety reasons, and exited the building."

Detectives realized he was gone a few minutes after his escape.

"The building was locked down and a search began. During the search, investigators reviewing video footage found that Dahlen was already out of the building," police said.

Dahlen faces several charges including first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, assaulting a public safety officer, unauthorized use of a vehicle and second-degree escape.