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Truck driver pleads guilty to freeway shootings

A Roseburg man has admitted to eight freeway shootings in three Southern Oregon counties that occurred while he was behind the wheel of a UPS truck.

Kenneth Alan Ayers, 49, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to felony counts of attempted murder and weapon use charges surrounding a string of shootings that occurred between May 12, 2020, and Aug. 19, 2020, in Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties. One driver was injured near Central Point.

A woman driving on the freeway was shot in the shoulder about 9:45 p.m. Aug. 19 near Exit 35, according to a release issued by Deputy District Attorney Virginia Greer and earlier news reports.

Witnesses told police that at the time the woman was shot, her car was near a UPS double- or triple-trailer merging on the freeway.

Based on the information from witnesses, Oregon State Police tracked down Ayers behind the wheel of a UPS truck that night in Douglas County with a matching route, and had recovered a firearm and made their arrest the following morning.

A UPS spokesperson has stated previously that UPS employees are prohibited from having firearms in company vehicles and on company grounds. The company cooperated with police in the investigation.

In December, Ayers agreed to be tried in Jackson County for all of the shooting incidents in three counties. Those 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, according to earlier news reports.

Ayers entered guilty pleas Tuesday at a settlement conference hearing to three counts of attempted second-degree murder, five counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, three counts of recklessly endangering another person and two counts of second-degree criminal mischief in each of the eight shootings.

Ayers’ next court appearance is a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 2.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Kenneth Alan Ayers faces attempted murder, assault and weapon use charges surrounding a string of Southern Oregon shootings from Central Point to Canyonville. Oregon State Police photo.