Manhunt leads to Idaho man suspected of burglary

Joshua B. Christoffersen, 40, is being held in Malheur County Jail for unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and possession of methamphetamines. (Photo courtesy of Malheur County Sheriff’s Office)

A wild span of stolen vehicles, middle-of-the-night gunfire and a New Year’s Eve manhunt ended with an arrest  in a remote mining compound about 70 miles west of Vale on New Year’s Day.

Deputies arrested Joshua B. Christoffersen, 40, of Idaho, at 11:21 a.m. on New Year’s Day after he was found hiding inside a shed at the EP Minerals mining compound off U.S. 20 on Juntura Cutoff Road.

Christoffersen is being held in the Malheur County Jail on two counts of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of methamphetamines.

Christoffersen, who is suspected of a botched burglary near Harper, was unarmed within Harney County limits when two Malheur County deputies found him holed up at the mine, according to Malheur County Undersheriff Travis Johnson. 

The suspect tried to make a run for it, fleeing about 75 yards on foot before the two deputies were able to take him down, said Johnson, adding that Christoffersen eventually complied and didn’t resist arrest.

On Tuesday, law enforcement spent about 12 hours searching for Christoffersen. Johnson said Oregon State Police troopers joined deputies from Harney and Malheur counties, with several officers from Bend joining in the search. 

They used air assets, including one helicopter and three drones, before calling off the manhunt at around 4 p.m. Tuesday. 

But Johnson said it was old fashioned police work – searching buildings – that led to the suspect. 

“It was cold and wet and raining pretty hard, so you start in a logical place where someone would try to survive,” Johnson said. 

Malheur County deputies resumed the search at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

Johnson said the suspect was able to hide out until the search party left Tuesday, and later snuck into the shed.

Christoffersen is suspected of stealing a Ford F350 belonging to Ginger Loucks of Marsing. 

Loucks said the pickup was taken from a job site off Highway 78 in Marsing. Loucks, who said she’s never seen the suspect, first noticed the vehicle was missing on the morning of Monday, Dec. 30. A trailer attached to the vehicle had been unhooked and left behind.

The suspect was spotted at an unoccupied ranch on Dec. 31 loading a tractor and side-by-side onto a trailer. A neighbor who spotted the thief fired a warning shot. The suspect reportedly fired back before he took off west on Highway 20 and ditched the pickup on a rural road inside the Harney County line.

News tip? Contact reporter Yadira Lopez: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

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