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Neighbors say man shot by police was veteran suffering from PTSD

A neighbor of the 52-year-old man who was killed by police after he allegedly fired at least one shot at an officer Sunday said the man was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Neighbor Deanne Gibson-Bain said Stephen Andrew McMilon was kind, soft-spoken and had been seeking treatment for his condition. She said he'd reached out to her once in an early morning call because he was concerned someone was at his gate trying to get in. But no one was there, she said.

"I have no idea what happened yesterday," Gibson-Bain said Monday. "I feel so bad because the man was ill. He wasn't a mean bully. He didn't deserve to die."

McMilon's military service record was not immediately available Monday, but in a 2008 letter he wrote to the Mail Tribune applauding a forest-thinning bill, McMilon described himself as retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and a wildland firefighter. Medford police said Monday they could not yet confirm whether McMilon was a veteran and did not yet know whether he suffered from PTSD or other illness, nor whether he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the shooting.

Medford police reported McMilon had a shotgun, two handguns and a "substantial" amount of ammunition with him when he was killed in a church parking lot near the intersection of Cherry Street and Stewart Avenue in southwest Medford.

Police were first called to McMilon's home, 128-1/2 Chestnut St., at 2:58 p.m. Sunday for a reported domestic disturbance involving McMilon and a woman.

"Possibly a round or shot being fired. A neighbor had heard that type of noise," Medford police Chief Tim George said.

He said police had been called to McMilon's home several times before but declined to provide further details.

"He is certainly not a stranger to us," George said.

Police found no evidence of a crime during the call to Chestnut Street Sunday. About an hour and a half later, they responded to a second report involving McMilon. Police said he was walking south on Cherry Street toward Stewart Avenue carrying a shotgun and other weapons. Multiple callers told dispatch McMilon was waving the shotgun and "talking and not making any sense while he was talking," George said.

Callers reported "a variety of descriptions of what he was saying and what he was doing. Certainly unusual behavior," George said.

Four officers responded to Cherry Street. At 4:32 p.m., police said McMilon menaced the officers with a shotgun not far from the intersection of Cherry and Stewart Avenue. Two minutes later, he fired at least one round at an officer who had parked his patrol car at the intersection, George said. Police shot back and struck McMilon, who died in the parking lot of Heritage Christian Center at 1870 W. Stewart Ave., despite officers' attempts to revive him. George did not know yet Monday how many shots were fired or how many struck McMilon and said the investigation is continuing.

Medford police declined to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting, saying that information would become available after a Jackson County grand jury decides whether the shooting was justified. The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. The Major Assault Death Investigation Unit, made up of officials from Oregon State Police, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, Central Point, Ashland and Medford police and the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, is investigating the case.

Court records show McMilon has no felony criminal history in Oregon. Charges of carrying and using a dangerous weapon and reckless endangerment in 2003 were both dismissed, records show. 

Neighbor Robert Armstrong described McMilon as kind. He said he'd hired McMilon — whom he referred to as "Sarge" — for some odd jobs, and that he was a hard worker.

"He was a friendly neighbor," Armstrong said.

Anyone who witnessed the shooting or McMilon's actions prior to the shooting are asked to contact Detective Mark Cromwell of Medford police at 541-774-2235 or 541-774-2230.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Police investigate an officer-involved shooting Sunday at Cherry Street and Stewart Avenue. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell
Daniel Kingjorski, pastor of the Heritage Christian Center, comforts people gathered around his church after a man was shot and killed by police in the parking lot next to his church. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell