Medford man charged with assaulting roommate after standoff
A Wednesday morning assault that put a man in the hospital with a head injury and several broken fingers prompted Medford police to close off Royal Avenue while SWAT and a negotiating team coaxed the suspect out of his apartment.
Thomas Molia, 27,was held in the Jackson County Jail on Wednesday on charges of second-degree assault, fourth-degree assault and menacing. His bail was set at more than $1 million, jail records show.
Police say Molia assaulted his roommate, 29-year-old James Alan Smithee, during an argument inside the apartment.
"It was just a verbal dispute that got out of hand," said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau. "(Molia) ended up assaulting him with his hands, fists, as well as some type of blunt object at the scene."
Police later said Molia struck Smithee with a wooden closet rod. Molia also allegedly pulled an Airsoft gun that resembled a real firearm on Smithee during the assault and pointed it but did not fire.
Police received a cellphone call from Smithee at 2:45 a.m. as he walked to Providence Medford Medical Center from the apartment, located at the corner of Spring Street and Royal Avenue.
"He was not able to make it all the way to the entrance to the hospital and collapsed in the parking lot," Budreau said. "We helped escort him into the hospital. He was suffering from multiple injuries, head injuries and several broken bones."
Police said Smithee was treated and released from the hospital later in the day.
Police responded to the apartment shortly after the assault and tried to get Molia to come out. Authorities had heard initial reports that a firearm had been brandished — it turned out to be the BB pistol — and hung back until SWAT arrived.
After police obtained a warrant to search the apartment for evidence tied to the assault, they closed Royal Avenue in front of the apartments, turning traffic and morning walkers around. Nearby apartments were evacuated for about 45 minutes.
SWAT arrived on scene at 7:30 a.m. Police negotiators used a public address system to ask Molia to come out of the apartment. He did so a few minutes later and was taken into custody without incident, police said.
Apartment resident John Pluma said he woke up at 5:30 a.m. and saw police officers scurrying all over the complex.
"It was a little out of hand," Pluma said, adding the apartment complex has typically been a quiet, safe place. "This is what you see in San Diego on a daily basis."
"They were everywhere," apartment resident Thomas Goracke said of the police.
Neighbors said both men had been quiet and friendly in the past.
"They're both good people," Pluma said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email@example.com.