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MailTribune.com
  • Shooting victim's fiancee is baffled by attack

    She knew none of the men allegedly in car where gun was fired
  • All Jennifer Knutson can remember is three loud pops when she and her fiance were struck by someone firing a gun from a passing Chevy Impala a week ago today.
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      An account has been set up for Erik Dorey at any U.S. Bank location. Dorey doesn't have health insurance, according to his fiancee, Jennifer Knutson.
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      You can help shooting victim
      An account has been set up for Erik Dorey at any U.S. Bank location. Dorey doesn't have health insurance, according to his fiancee, Jennifer Knutson.
  • All Jennifer Knutson can remember is three loud pops when she and her fiance were struck by someone firing a gun from a passing Chevy Impala a week ago today.
    "We were just talking, heading home, when I heard a pop, pop, pop," said the 19-year-old, who grew up in Central Point. "I have no freaking clue why it happened, how it happened. I wish it didn't happen."
    Other than the sound of a gun, Knutson can't remember any details of the shooting at Beall Lane and Circle Wood Drive in Central Point, which investigators believe involved suspects with gang ties.
    Knutson, who is still in pain herself, thinks a bullet that passed through the cheek of her fiance, 22-year-old Erik Dorey of Gold Hill, grazed the back of her head.
    She said Dorey has undergone two operations and his jaw will be wired shut for some time as he undergoes treatment at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Knutson said Dorey, whom she plans to marry June 9, 2012, has been sedated because he is agitated by memories of the shooting.
    "He's doing the best he can do at the moment," she said. "All those prayers are helping him."
    Sheriff's investigators continue to work the case, trying to unravel what happened at about 4 a.m. Nov. 1 in the drive-by shooting that led to a high-speed pursuit and finally a rollover crash on Old Stage Road that left Gustavo Santiago, 16, of Central Point dead after being ejected from the car.
    Four people were in the Impala at the time of the shooting, but only Miguel A. Carbajal, 19, of Dinuba, Calif., whom police believe was the driver, has been charged so far. He faces 11 counts, including attempted aggravated murder and manslaughter.
    Police are still searching for Gabriel Perez, 20, of Medford, who fled the scene of the crash, sought treatment in a Grants Pass hospital, then provided a false name to local police to elude capture. Perez is a known Norteños gang member and registered sex offender.
    Another passenger, Francisco J. Campos, 19, of Traver, Calif., is being held as a material witness in the Jackson County Jail on $250,000 bail.
    Beth Heckert, chief deputy district attorney, said more forensic work is being conducted in the case.
    "We'll be making a decision whether anyone else is going to be charged," she said.
    Investigators believe the Impala was traveling westbound on Beall and passing the Isuzu Rodeo driven by Dorey when the shooting started.
    Knutson said she never met the occupants in the Impala. She said she has never had any gang associations.
    "I have never talked to these men — I have never seen them," she said.
    Knutson said she had been at a Halloween get-together earlier that night with Dorey. Later, they decided to go to a restaurant to eat. After the meal, they dropped a friend off near Beall at 3:45 a.m. and started heading toward Highway 99 to go home.
    She doesn't remember seeing any vehicles passing their car. Refuting rumors she's heard, Knutson said there was no interaction with the occupants of the Impala before the shooting.
    "I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," she said.
    Knutson said she has speculated that the shooting could have been a case of mistaken identity.
    "They could have thought we were somebody else," she said. "I am going through so many possible scenarios in my head."
    After the shooting, which occurred about five minutes after dropping the friend off, she said Dorey managed to pull the car off the side of the road.
    "I said, 'Baby, you got shot in the face,' " she remembered saying.
    Then, she felt something cold and wet on her own head and realized it was blood.
    After calling 9-1-1, Knutson said she had the impression that it was taking a long time for help to come.
    "I just started screaming. At that point, I just thought we were going to die," she said. "I was scared we were going to get shot at again."
    They got out of the car, and Knutson said she told Dorey to lie on his side on the ground so he wouldn't choke on his own blood.
    Other than neighbors, a Central Point police officer was the first on the scene, but Knutson said she was alarmed when he had a gun drawn. "I held up my hands," she said.
    The police officer realized they were the victims and she started pleading with him for help, she said.
    Meanwhile, the Impala had sped off, and an Oregon State Police trooper spotted it running a red light at Highway 99 and Beall.
    Knutson said she figures the gun was a small-caliber weapon based on the bullet holes she saw in the car later that morning. She noted a 9 mm is the gun of choice in many rap songs, citing the lyrics of Lil Wayne, a popular rap singer who frequently refers to a 9 mm handgun.
    Knutson said the shooting has left her with a distaste for rap.
    "I think I'm going to listen to country now," she said.
    The shooting also has made her more fearful to be in a community that she once thought was fairly safe when she grew up.
    "I just think people need to be aware that it is not as safe as it used to be," she said.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.
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