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MailTribune.com
  • Man suspected in robbery tells police someone shot at him

  • An accused robber who was armed with a baton had an eventful weekend after allegedly stealing a man's backpack and then being shot at during another attempted robbery minutes later, Medford police said.
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  • An accused robber who was armed with a baton had an eventful weekend after allegedly stealing a man's backpack and then being shot at during another attempted robbery minutes later, Medford police said.
    Jamel Gerald Vanhook, 20, remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of second-degree robbery, first-degree theft, possession of methamphetamine and a warrant for failing to appear in court after he was arrested Friday night, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
    Investigators believe Vanhook was riding his bike around west Medford Friday night looking for people to rob. He carried with him a collapsible baton similar to the kind police use to subdue violent suspects, Budreau said.
    At around 10 p.m. Friday night, Vanhook peddled up to a man walking near McLoughlin Middle School on West Second Street and brandished the baton, Budreau said.
    "Vanhook told this victim to give him his backpack," Budreau said. "The victim feared for his safety and handed it over. It contained his iPhone 4 and some clothing, but not much else."
    Vanhook then peddled away, but not before the victim was able to get a good look at his face and the bike he was riding.
    "He have us a good statement, which made it easy for us to identify Vanhook a short time later," Budreau said.
    Medford officers eventually tracked Vanhook down and placed him in custody. They drove him police headquarters for further questioning.
    "He refused to give us a statement about the robbery, but he did say something that interested us," Budreau said.
    Vanhook off-handedly mentioned being shot at earlier that night in another part of west Medford.
    Police checked the night's records and found that a shooting was, in fact, reported earlier that night near the area of West 11th and Newtown streets.
    Officers scoured the scene and found a shell casing on the ground. Neighbors reported hearing gunfire and some saw a muzzle flash around a half hour after the earlier robbery, Budreau said.
    Although Vanhook didn't admit to it, police strongly suspect that he approached another person that night for an attempted robbery. Only this time the intended victim pulled a gun and fired a round at Vanhook, Budreau said.
    "It makes sense that this is a possibility," Budreau said. "We believe Mr. Vanhook had a busy night that night."
    Vanhook remains jailed on $265,000 bail.
    — Chris Conrad
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