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Aunt says career criminal who led officers on two-state chase is ‘not a monster’

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COWLITZ COUNTY, Wash. — Police officers said Eric Allen Caldwell led them on a high speed chase in Oregon and Washington, forcing them to shoot him.

Now he is out of the hospital and behind bars while his girlfriend is on the loose.

Officers said someone saw Caldwell and Elisha Howe driving a stolen GMC Yukon and hauling a tractor in Scappoose.

They also claimed he ditched the trailer at a property on Raymond Creek Road, just before the police confronted Caldwell and Howe, telling the pair to surrender.

But officials say Caldwell shot at them and nearly ran over an officer while speeding off. Caldwell was shot by an officer in the chest, but he kept driving.

And in the middle of the chaos, the pair frantically called Caldwell’s aunt for help.

“She just kept telling me, ‘He’s been shot! He’s been shot!'” Debbie Wood, Caldwell’s aunt, exclaimed. “She said ‘there’s blood everywhere. There’s blood everywhere.'”

Wood said she tried to convince the pair to surrender to prevent any further escalation.

“She said Eric got shot by the police. Then they called back and Eric said he shot at a policeman,” Wood said. “And that’s when I said ‘Honey, where are you? Let me come get you. Let’s get this taken care of.'”

Wood could not convince them to stop.

Officers said Caldwell and Howe dumped the black SUV and carjacked a young man in this parking lot, who was on his break from Burger King.

Police said they pair drove through Clatskanie over to Longview, and deputies there started chasing them.

Caldwell finally ran off the road near Kalama and was taken into custody. Howe was also taken in but was released.

Oregon State Police officials aren’t sure why Howe was released after the couple’s arrest in Cowlitz County. She is now wanted for charges related to the carjacking at Burger King and they are asking anyone that has any information on her whereabouts to call police.

Caldwell has a very long rap sheet, with records of over 33 arrests in Multnomah County alone.

Wood said her efforts to help him haven’t worked, but he’ll always be family.

“Eric knows he did wrong. Eric knows he’s going to jail,” she said. I love him and I know he made mistakes. But he was afraid. And I just don’t want people thinking he’s a monster.”

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