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VA officer shoots combative man

WHITE CITY — A police officer shot a man in the Veterans Affairs clinic in White City this morning after the man became "combative" in the admissions area, authorities say.

The shooting occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m. at the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics and involved an officer with the Veterans Affairs force, officials said.

The injured man, whom police have not yet identified, was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford with a gunshot wound that did "not appear to be life threatening," a Jackson County Sheriff's Office media release said. No officers were hurt. The name of the shooter has not yet been released.

A veteran interviewed by The Associated Press said he heard the man shouting shortly before a shot rang out in Building 201A.

"I was walking down the main hallway when I overheard a veteran yelling at intake people that he was here for the fifth time trying to get health care, and was upset at what he thought was a runaround," said Shawn Quall, an Army veteran of the first Gulf War who is from Bend.

Quall said he then heard someone yell, "He's got a knife."

"Then boom, a loud shot," Quall said. "I saw the guy holding his stomach and then fall to the ground." Scanner traffic between dispatch and police indicated the man had been shot in the chest, but that has not yet been confirmed.

The campus was put on lockdown until authorities determined there was no public threat, the sheriff's release said. The shooting is being investigated by the sheriff's office with assistance by Oregon State Police, Medford police, Ashland police and the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.

"When there is a shooting involved here on the VA SORCC campus, it is to be reviewed and given over to the local authorities," SORCC spokesperson Rhonda Haney said.

Locking down the facility is protocol whenever a "major situation" occurs on campus, Haney added.

"This is a rehabilitation center, and we do have veterans who live at the facility, so our No. 1 priority is to make sure that they are safe," she said.

Veterans at the clinic receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues expressed shock about the shooting.

Outpatient Joel Setzer, a U.S. Army veteran who also served in Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf, said, "This is the type of incident that should have never happened out there."

SORCC says on its website that it "offers a variety of health services to meet the needs of our nation's Veterans."

Quall said it's not unusual to hear veterans arguing with the center's staff.

"Often you hear guys yelling," he said. "It's dealing with the federal government, and it is frustrating at times."

All appointments at the SORCC were canceled today and Friday.

Detectives are hoping to speak with anyone who witnessed or heard the incident. Anyone with information who has not already provided a statement is asked to contact the sheriff's department tip line at 541-774-8333.

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

SORCC spokeswoman Rhonda Haney addresses the media after an officer-involved shooting occurred at the clinics in White City this morning. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]
An officer-involved shooting occurred at the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City this morning. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]