Suspect in armed robbery, pursuit once saved boy’s life

Josh Luther, 36, is a registered sex offender with lengthy criminal record

Josh and Michelle Luther are accused of being involved in an armed robbery turned pursuit Tuesday, October 26, 2016. (Facebook)
Josh and Michelle Luther are accused of being involved in an armed robbery turned pursuit Tuesday, October 26, 2016. (Facebook)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A man accused of robbing a motel at gunpoint and shooting at officers during a pursuit Tuesday was recently hailed as a hero, despite having a storied criminal background.

Josh Luther, 36, is still in the hospital following the armed robbery turned pursuit that spanned multiple cities, but he is expected to face charges for the series of crimes upon his release.

An aerial view of the suspect's van in a robbery and chase with shots fired in Southwest Portland, October 25, 2016 (KOIN)
An aerial view of the suspect’s van in a robbery and chase with shots fired in Southwest Portland, October 25, 2016 (KOIN)

KOIN 6 News learned the Washington man is a registered sex offender. He’s been charged with numerous crimes out of Yakima and Spokane counties, including assault with sexual motivation, theft, burglary and failing to register as a sex offender.

But after this past Fourth of July, neighbors in his remote Washington community hailed him as a hero when he saved a young boy from an exploding firework.

“It did not click in my head what it was at first, but then I saw the quick fuse, looked away and right away I jumped towards him,” Luther previously told KNDO. “I got about midway in throwing it before it ignited itself and blew fragments in my hand.”

He told KNDO he didn’t consider the act to be heroic, saying “all of us would have done the same thing.” He said the incident left his hands “blown to shreds.”

Josh and Michelle Luther are accused of being involved in an armed robbery turned pursuit Tuesday, October 26, 2016. (Facebook)
Josh and Michelle Luther are accused of being involved in an armed robbery turned pursuit Tuesday, October 26, 2016. (Facebook)

“My throat was split apart,” he said. “I have stitches all the way across my throat. It tore into me like a pop can.”

Luther lost his hand in the explosion, which a distant relative said eventually caused him to lose his job.

It’s unclear what happened to Luther since his recovery, or what may have led him to allegedly rob a motel at gunpoint and shoot at officers in their patrol cars.

Luther is believed to have children of his own, but it’s unclear if the 3 who were in the van during the pursuit were his own. They are now in protective custody. His wife, Michelle, who was driving the van, was arrested for attempted aggravated murder.

The Tigard police officer who shot Luther after he fled from the getaway van on foot has been placed on standard administrative leave during the investigation.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.