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Ashland shooting shocks witnesses

ASHLAND — Bullets that flew in the parking lot of a north Ashland gas station Wednesday afternoon left one man hospitalized with a wound to the shoulder and two suspects in police custody facing potentially serious charges.

Jackson County sheriff's investigators still were trying to piece together the shooting late Wednesday. They did not release the names of anyone involved.

What is known is that a man was shot through the shoulder and is expected to survive the wound. The man was rushed to Rogue Valley Medical Center, where he was being treated Wednesday night.

Witnesses told deputies that a scuffle between three people outside the Shell station on Valley View Road ended with multiple gunshots fired by at least one suspect, said sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson.

"We do not know the relationships of anyone involved at this point," Carlson said. "We are not sure the suspects knew the victim."

Workers at the Phillips 76 station across the street were going about their daily business when the shots rang out at around 5:30 p.m.

Adam Twyman, a Phillips 76 employee, was settling down for his dinner break when he heard the commotion at the Shell station.

"I heard the gunshots and jumped up to see what was going on," Twyman said.

Co-worker Brandon Burkett thought someone was letting off fireworks across the street.

"I then saw a man and a woman take off," Burkett said. "The man was yelling back at the Shell station area as he walked away."

Burkett then saw the victim slumped against the wall of the Shell station.

"I saw blood coming out of his right side, and I knew that it was a shooting," Burkett said.

The man and woman were seen fleeing toward Eagle Mill Road, which runs parallel to Highway 99. Burkett believes the man fired more rounds as he was leaving the area.

"I heard more shots as he was walking away," Burkett said. "It was shocking to see all of this happening."

Police from all nearby agencies rushed to the scene and set up a perimeter several miles around the area. The goal was to pin the suspects within the circle, not allowing them to escape to the interstate or get into Ashland.

A search helicopter was called in to search from the air as police dogs combed the brush. The pair managed to evade the perimeter, though.

Two hours after the shooting, police received a tip the suspects were inside a pickup heading south on Interstate 5. Officers and deputies at the Shell station sped away in their patrol cars and were able to intercept the pickup before it crossed into California.

The suspects were taken into custody on the interstate and turned over to investigators for questioning.

"We are not sure what charges might come from this," Carlson said. "We don't know if the victim was involved in an altercation with the suspects or if he was an innocent bystander hit by stray bullets."

Burkett said he has seen the victim around the gas stations in the past. He described him as an elderly transient man.

Carlson did not confirm if the man is a transient, nor did she say whether police had retrieved the gun used in the shooting.

"We do know multiple shots were fired," she said. "One struck the victim, and a U-Haul van parked nearby was struck by a bullet."

Carlson said investigators would spend most of the night on the scene.

Burkett said the events at the Shell station rattled him for the rest of the day.

"This usually doesn't happen around here," he said. "This is not usual for the Rogue Valley."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.