A homeless man pleaded not guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court this afternoon to multiple Measure 11 charges for allegedly firing his black-powder pistol at teens walking on the Bear Creek Greenway Tuesday.
Joseph Edward Matejko, 53, was arraigned before Judge Tim Gerking on three counts of attempted murder, thee counts of first-degree attempted assault and three counts of second-degree assault.
Matejko offered a firm denial of guilt for allegedly firing several shots from the antique weapon at three teenagers, then launched into a bizarre series of statements.
"I have my passport to leave the U.S., and money waiting," Matejko said, after stating he had pain and nausea from multiple sclerosis and wanted a doctor.
An attorney from the public defenders office tried to explain to Matejko that he would be represented. But Matejko insisted he was "only going to have an attorney help me with the rules of the court."
"I wish to represent myself and remain silent," he said, folding his arms across his chest and whispering.
Two of the teens were struck and sustained minor injuries. It is unclear what caused Matejko to fire at the teens, but they are lucky not to have sustained more serious injuries, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
"I've been to a suicide with that kind of a gun. They have the potential to kill," Budreau said, adding wet conditions at Matejko's campsite likely dampened the weapon's firing ability.
Budreau said the teens were cooperative with police and did not appear to have been harassing Matejko.
"(The attack) appears to be completely random," Budreau said.
Police tracked Matejko from the area of the alleged attack, along the fenced portion of the Greenway, and back to an open area of brush.
Matejko had two pistols. Police say he only fired one weapon in the alleged attack. Matejko had reloaded both revolvers with marble-sized balls by the time police arrived, though.
"He had the time to do that, and he did," Budreau said, adding Matejko had also shaved off his hair and his beard.
"He had nicks and cuts, and he said he had just shaved himself," he said.
Officers finally found him standing near the creek. He had one of the loaded revolvers in his hand when the officers confronted him.
"There was a moment when he had the gun in hand," Budreau said, "It wouldn't have taken much for him to raise it. I want to commend the police officers for showing restraint."
Matejko dropped the revolver when ordered and was arrested without incident, Budreau said. He appeared to understand his rights, but declined to discuss the alleged incident.
Matejko was behaving like a person in the midst of a mental health crisis, Budreau said.
"He was acting somewhat bizarre," Budreau said.
Matejko recently arrived in the Medford area and has been living on the streets. Police do not know where he obtained the guns, Budreau said.
"We're not sure why he's here. We have a lot of questions," Budreau said. "This is a bizarre case with a bizarre finish and an abrupt end."
Matejko remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $1 million bail.
— Sanne Specht
Read more in Thursday's Mail Tribune.