PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Family and friends of the man shot to death after allegedly trying to steal a helicopter said they can’t believe it.
Hillsboro Police on Wednesday said Holden Austin Gorka, 25, jumped a fence Monday to get into Hillsboro Airport and then approached a flight instructor and a friend who were inside a helicopter. He ordered them to get out, firing at least one round during the incident.
Gorka then ran off into a field where he was shot by Hillsboro Police Officer Melvin “Vin” Ambrose after a confrontation. Ambrose is a 27-year veteran of Hillsboro PD, spent 13 years as a K9 handler and currently works as a Police Training officer.
Gorka’s friends and family said it’s completely out of character for him.
According to Cody Countryman, Gorka’s best friend, Gorka never really got into any trouble. He didn’t drink or do drugs and he didn’t have a criminal record. Countryman also said Gorka was engaged.
Countryman said, “He had a rough time getting stable, but from me talking to him, sounded like things were working out for him. He was a trucker, seemed like he was enjoying it. He was making money. He was doing pretty good in life.”
Gorka also lived with Countryman for a few years. He ran away from home and was “kind of homeless,” so Countryman and his family took him in.
Hillsboro police said it appears Gorka lived in multiple cities across the country. Records show he was registered to vote in Olympia, Washington.
According to Countryman, Gorka had a difficult childhood and went from city to city after getting his GED.
Hillsboro Aero Academy said they aren’t aware of any connection between Gorka and their company. FAA records show there is no one with that name who has a pilot’s license and Countryman also said he wasn’t aware of Gorka having any experience flying helicopters.
However, police said at the time of the attempted hijacking, it seemed like Gorka knew how to operate a helicopter.
Still wrapping his head around the incident, Countryman said he remembers Gorka as “a great person.”
“He’s one of the most loving and caring people I’ve ever met,” Countryman said. “He’d always be by your side no matter what. I really don’t know what drove him to do this.”
Hillsboro Police have not yet named the officers involved in the shooting.