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Medford police shoot armed man

Two Medford police officers shot and killed a man who was firing a shotgun at another police officer near the intersection of West Stewart Avenue and Cherry Street at 4:28 p.m. on Sunday, according to Medford police.

Police had been called to the scene at 4:25 p.m. and were approaching the man on foot and in a patrol car when he began shooting, said Medford Police Chief Tim George.

(Correction: See below)

Two officers shot the man from about 50 yards away as he was shooting at another officer, George said.

Residents said the man had been walking on Cherry Street, yelling and brandishing the shotgun. When police arrived, officers yelled at bystanders to hide inside, neighbors said.

The man was also armed with two other guns, George said.

Police haven't yet released the name of the deceased pending notification of next of kin. He was a 52-year-old Medford resident, George said.

"This subject is not a stranger to us," he said.

Earlier that afternoon, at 3 p.m., police had responded to a report of a shot fired on Chestnut Street involving the same man. He was not arrested in that incident, George said.

Mercy Flights and Medford Fire-Rescue ambulances arrived to provide medical aid at the scene of the shooting on Cherry Street. The man was declared deceased at the scene, George said.

Standing behind yellow police tape on Sunday, adults and children from the neighborhood watched the investigation unfold as the man lay dead beneath a white sheet near a minivan in a parking lot on Cherry Street.

Per standard protocol, four officers who were at the scene of the shooting are on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues, George said.

"This is a major investigation. We've taken the life of a person and it doesn't get any more serious than that," he said, adding that the investigation will be thorough and lengthy.

Oregon State Police, the Major Assault Death Investigation Unit, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, and Central Point and Ashland police will aid in the investigation, George said.

The case will go to the District Attorney's Office and will be presented before a grand jury, he said.

George said he could not comment on any potential motive on the part of the armed man, and could not say if the man had made verbal threats toward police.

Portions of West Stewart Avenue and Cherry Street were closed off Sunday. The area around the shooting was expected to be closed on Monday as the investigation continued, George said.

Neighbor Ed Welch said he was standing in the area when he heard a commotion. Police on the scene yelled at adults and children in the neighborhood to get inside, he said.

Welch said he heard police yell at the man to drop his gun. He said he saw the man with his gun raised and heard him yell twice at police officers in two locations "You go to hell!"

One police officer was taking cover behind a Jeep, Welch said.

The owner of the Jeep, Korby Wallace, said he saw the man with the gun pump the shotgun to ready it for firing.

Neighbor Luis Hernandez said he saw the man put ammunition inside a gun and ready it for firing.

The man was walking down the side of the road screaming at someone, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he couldn't tell what the man was screaming or who he was screaming at.

Police told Hernandez to go inside, so he went into his garage. Hernandez said he heard seven or eight gun shots but didn't see who was firing.

 Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or by email at valdous@mailtribune.com.

<b>Correction:</b> Details about officers' original approach of the suspect have been corrected.

Medford Police Chief Tim George, left, and officers respond to a fatal officer-involved shooting in Medford on Sunday. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell
Medford Police and Jackson County Sheriffs Deputies closed off Stewart Ave. near Columbus Ave. after officers responded to the shooting. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell