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Arrest made in Rogue River hemp farm shooting

One man is being treated for a gunshot wound and another man is in the Jackson County Jail following a shooting at a hemp farm north of Rogue River that sparked a precautionary lockdown at a nearby elementary school.

Jeremy Odell O’Patchen, 34, was arrested Friday afternoon on a charge of attempted murder in the shooting of a Talent man in the 1200 block of Pine Grove Road, according to a release issued by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

The altercation stemmed from an “ongoing property easement dispute” with people at the hemp farm, according to police. At just before noon, O’Patchen allegedly showed up at the farm without permission and argued with employees before he shot Russell Anthony Clark, 55, of Talent, once in the arm.

Police do not believe the wound to be life-threatening.

After the shooting, O’Patchen allegedly fled on foot to his home in the 500 block of Minthorne Road, located less than half a mile away, sparking a brief multi-agency search.

The sheriff’s office, Rogue River police and Oregon State Police used Rogue River Junior/Senior High School — about five miles from where the shooting occurred — as a staging area until 12:40 p.m., when O’Patchen arrived at the main sheriff’s office building in Central Point to turn himself in.

The sheriff’s office said the school was used only as a “resource staging area,” and was in no other way involved in the shooting or investigation.

In a letter that went out to parents of Rogue River School District students, Superintendent Patrick Lee said sheriff’s deputies told him the situation was under control at 12:45 p.m. At that time Lee said he “expressed concern to the deputy that we had not been notified or contacted earlier about this incident happening near our school.”

Because of the brief lack of communication, Rogue River Elementary School Principal Jamie Wright placed the elementary school on lockdown after Wright was alerted by a police scanner listener to a shooting near the high school. Lee said he approved the lockdown based on the limited information available.

“At this point, neither I or any administrators had heard anything from any law enforcement agency regarding an incident in our area and did not know anything like this was going on,” Lee wrote. “My past experience is that law enforcement contacts the schools when they feel we are in danger and should be in lockdown.”

Lee said he got through to the sheriff’s office minutes later, and finished his call with police by 12:30 p.m. During the call, Lee said the sheriff’s office “assured me twice that we did not need to be in lockdown.”

Rogue River High School Principal Chris Carmiencke described it as “business as usual” for his students on campus based on what the superintendent told him.

Carmiencke said he stood at the front of the school to keep watch, expecting a wave of concerned parents motivated by rumors on social media. Aside from police vehicles en route to the site of where the shooting occurred, Carmiencke said he saw little reason to doubt what the sheriff’s office and superintendent told him.

Carmiencke said that he and Lee discussed closing campus and preventing students who drive from leaving during the lunch period, but only advised students to steer clear of driving north on East Evans Creek Road near the police activity.

As of Friday evening, O’Patchen was held in jail on $200,000 bail on charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault. Police say more charges may be added as the investigation progresses.

Jackson County Circuit Court records show no criminal history for O’Patchen.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

DMV photo of Jeremy O'Patchen prior to his arrest (Courtesy: Jackson County Sheriff's Office)