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Fatal showdown

U.S. Marshals said they shot a 20-year-old Medford man dead in an Albertsons parking lot Thursday night because he attempted to ram them with his car while trying to escape arrest.

James Harrison Georgeson Jr. was wanted by the Marshals office for a probation violation stemming from an assault on a federal officer in 2009.

"The U.S. Marshals were attempting to arrest this subject when the shots were fired," Medford police Chief Tim George said. (Note: George's full name was inadvertently omitted from this article, but this version has been corrected.)

George said no local agencies were on scene when the shooting occurred.

The U.S. Marshals agency is tasked with tracking down and arresting those with federal warrants.

The attempted arrest occurred in the busy shopping center parking lot on West Main Street at 5:22 p.m.

"While attempting to apprehend him, (Georgeson) used his vehicle as a deadly weapon," U.S. Marshals spokesman Supervisory Deputy Eric Wahlstrom said in a news release.

It was unclear exactly what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting. Several cars, including at least one unmarked police car, were damaged.

"We will be taking the lead in this investigation," George said. "We have a lot of witnesses corralled and will be speaking with them about what they saw."

George could not say how many times Georgeson was shot or how many Marshals fired their weapons Thursday night.

He did say that two men were with Georgeson when he was killed.

They were detained and were being questioned by officers as detectives from multiple Jackson County agencies continued to conduct the investigation.

"We are interested in what these two subjects have to say," George said.

According to recent Jackson County Circuit Court records, Georgeson listed his home address in the 1400 block of E. Main St. in Medford.

Ricky Castaneda, 23, was leaving Albertsons after buying medicine when the gunfire erupted.

"I saw the police try to pin him in with their cars and he tried to escape in his car," Castaneda said. "He hit one of their cars and they just jumped out and shot that kid."

Castaneda said he was outraged by the violence and questions whether it was warranted.

"There were a lot of people around in this parking lot," he said. "This kid they killed better be wanted for murder, because what happened was crazy. That kid is dead, killed right in front of me."

The parking lot turned into chaos following the shooting. At least four cars were crashed during the arrest.

Georgeson's car appeared to have struck or been struck by an unmarked Marshal's sports utility vehicle. Another SUV looked to have crashed into another car near where Georgeson was shot.

Georgeson's body remained splayed beside his car as police investigators filtered into the area. Bullets shattered his driver's side window and his car's tires were flattened.

The gruesome scene confronted Albertsons shoppers entering and exiting the store.

Parents covered their childrens' eyes and told them not to look in the direction of the body as they left the store.

A large swath of the parking lot was roped off by police tape. Onlookers began to crowd the tape and took cell phone pictures and video of Georgeson's body.

Investigators fetched a line of grocery carts and covered them with a tarp to block the body from sight.

Officers were quick to grab a large group of witnesses in the parking lot minutes after the shooting. They collected the witnesses and steered them into a nearby automotive business, where they were questioned and released throughout the night.

George said the investigation will be handled by the county's major crimes unit, a team of detectives from agencies across the Rogue Valley.

"It is early in this thing," George said. "We have a lot of things to figure out."

Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe said the case will be turned over to a grand jury following the investigation.

"We have one young man who is dead and this case will be turned over to a grand jury on a timely basis," Hoppe said.

Hoppe was on the scene Thursday night, speaking to investigators as they combed through evidence.

A grand jury would determine whether the shooting was justified.

Hoppe said he spoke with U.S. Marshals officials on Thursday night.

"They said they would cooperate with this investigation," Hoppe said.

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

Fatal showdown