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I-5 shooting suspect facing 26 new charges

A Roseburg man already in the Jackson County Jail on accusations he shot a motorist near Central Point last summer faces new charges accusing him of attempting to murder two more people and endangering the lives of more than a dozen others along Interstate 5 in two nearby counties.

Kenneth Alan Ayers, 49, was arraigned Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court on a grand jury’s indictment adding more than two dozen new charges surrounding shootings in Douglas and Josephine counties — atop charges of freeway shootings in Jackson County — that allegedly occurred between May and August while he worked as a semitrailer driver for UPS.

During the hearing, defense lawyer Paul Moser, filling in for Ayers’ appointed public defender Clint Oborn, entered not guilty pleas on the 26 new charges and waived further reading of the charges aloud.

Deputy District Attorney Robin Klein, who appeared by phone during the hearing, asked Judge Laura Cromwell to keep the bail amount at $1 million.

“Which it will be,” Cromwell ordered.

The 34 charges in the grand jury’s indictment issued Wednesday include three counts of second-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree assault, eight counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, according to court records, all felonies.

Ayers was also indicted on misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment charges that accuse him of endangering the lives of 14 motorists and passengers in the shootings, along with six counts of second-degree criminal mischief accusing him of damaging vehicles in the shootings.

The Josephine and Douglas county incidents have all been waived into Jackson County jurisdiction, according to Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Virginia Greer.

Oregon State Police allege Ayers fired a gun at vehicles while he was driving a semi for UPS. Incidents were reported May 12 in Josephine County, June 2 in Jackson County, June 15 in Douglas County, June 22 in Josephine County, July 7 in Douglas County, July 9 in Josephine County and Aug. 19 near Central Point. A shooting near Central Point, which occurred near milepost 37, struck and injured a woman. OSP arrested Ayers an hour after that shooting near Canyonville. After searching the truck, OSP found a firearm believed to have been involved in the shooting among other pieces of evidence. Ayers allegedly used a .45-caliber handgun in the July 9 and Aug. 19 incidents.

UPS has stated previously that firearms are prohibited in company vehicles and on company premises, and that the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement in the case.

Damage to vehicles included flattened tires, loss of power steering and a pierced coolant hose in a semi. Police said there was no pattern to the shootings. They occurred during the day and night and happened to vehicles traveling north and south.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneKenneth Alan Ayers is arraigned Thursday in Jackson County Court on 26 additional charges on accusations he shot at motorists who were driving on Interstate 5.
Kenneth Alan Ayers