Two civilians shot and killed by law enforcement officers within five months - in a county with a small population and few serious crimes, it's a sobering statistic.

In the most recent incident, Roy Bass of Wallowa died at Boundary Campground outside the city on Thursday when Wallowa County sheriff's deputies shot him after he leveled a handgun at them.

While the investigation that always follows an officer-involved shooting was under way at Chieftain press time, from what has been made public already the deputies seemingly had little choice and had to act instantaneously in self defense.

In May, an Oregon state trooper fatally shot James Blair, who was armed with a handgun as he struggled with sheriff's deputies in his Wallowa home.

A county grand jury subsequently ruled that the trooper was justified in shooting Blair.

Other than a crime involving a child victim, a police officer's worst nightmare is having to use deadly force. Officers are trained to use their fire-arms, of course, but only as a last resort.

Studies indicate that killing someone often creates anguish that can last a cop's lifetime. We would-n't wish that on any re-sponsible officer, and especially in this case. Both are highly regarded by their fellow cops and many citizens.

We join the sheriff's office in hoping that they take full advantage of the counseling resources being made available to them. We also want them to know that they are appreciated, and we would like to see them back on duty as soon as they are able.

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