In their sights: Police look for Medford drive-by shooting suspect

Police step up search for suspect in west Medford drive-by shooting
Mail Tribune / Julia MooreJulia Moore

Medford police fanned out across the city Thursday in an attempt to corral an alleged gang member who cranked off a few rounds from a car earlier this week in west Medford.

Officers had some success, arresting a 16-year-old boy suspected of being behind the wheel during the drive-by shooting Tuesday that police believe was gang-related.

Police thought they had the shooter cornered later that afternoon at around 4 p.m. when an officer made a car stop near Summit Avenue and Haven Street.

The officer knew the car was associated with people who know the alleged shooter. A person who appeared to be the suspect jumped out of the car and fled on Haven Street. He disappeared before officers could block off the area, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

"We have been hot on his heels all day," Budreau said.

Officers also had descended on a residential neighborhood on Manchester Drive just after 1 p.m. They spoke to a juvenile who was inside the car during the shooting, but he was not charged with a crime.

"You have to take an active part in the shooting, such as driving or actually firing the gun," Budreau said. "We think if you are knowingly in a car during a drive-by you should be held accountable for a crime, but that's not how it works."

Detectives from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team arrested the alleged driver at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday at his home in the 1000 block of West 12th Street. Police also have recovered a 2006 black Toyota Tundra in which they believe the driver and other suspected Sureño gang members sped away after firing the shots.

The 16-year-old alleged driver is being held at the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center without bail on charges of attempted first-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and reckless endangerment, though police believe he did not pull the trigger.

"He actively participated in the event," Budreau said. "Certainly the driver had a significant role."

The Mail Tribune generally does not release the names of minors suspected in crimes unless they are Measure 11 offenses.

The shooting took place at about 8:40 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Benson Street and Dakota Avenue in west Medford. Three shots rang out before witnesses reported seeing a vehicle speed away. Police found bullet casings at the scene.

"We've pretty much confirmed that nobody was struck," Budreau said.

Police were on scene until 3 a.m., questioning potential witnesses and searching the neighborhood.

Police also have questioned and released another 18-year-old they believed to be involved in the shooting.

Authorities believe this shooting is another incident related to the ongoing conflict between the Sureño and Norteño gangs, but are uncertain of specifics at this time. Additional drive-by shooting attempts were reported in February and March in the same neighborhood.

"We do think it's gang-related, but as far as the specific motive, we're not commenting on that," Budreau said. "We're actually still trying to figure that out."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email him at pfeil@mailtribune.com. Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email him at cconrad@mailtribune.com.



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