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Armed man dies after being shot by sheriff's deputy

CENTRAL POINT — One man is dead following an officer-involved shooting at a Central Point area business.

Teddy James Maverick Varner, 29, died Wednesday evening following an “aggressive” altercation with a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy while armed with a handgun near a shop in the 8000 block of Blackwell Road, according to Sheriff Nathan Sickler.

At 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, a woman called 911 telling Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon dispatchers that she heard gunshots.

“The caller reported the [Varner] was threatening her boyfriend, and then heard gunshots coming from the shop area of the property,” Sickler said.

By 8:26 p.m. Wednesday — some three minutes after two sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call reporting a physical assault and possible shots fired — a deputy shot Varner multiple times from the police officer’s duty rifle.

“It was a rapidly changing situation,” Sickler said.

Sheriff’s deputies were trying to secure the location when they encountered Varner acting combative, and refusing to leave the shop structure, according to Sickler. Toxicology tests still are pending, but Sickler said the preliminary investigation points to signs Varner was under the influence of alcohol.

Sheriff’s deputies were questioning a man, who hasn’t been identified other than as the 911 caller’s boyfriend, when Varner exited the shop structure in an “aggressive manner” and pointed the gun at sheriff’s deputies.

“One deputy fired his patrol rifle multiple times, striking Varner,” Sickler said.

Sickler declined to say where on the body Varner was shot because details of the shooting are still being investigated by the Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit, consisting of multiple law enforcement agencies and the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, and the lead investigating agency is Oregon State Police.

An autopsy conducted Thursday by Dr. James Olson determined that Varner was shot twice.

The two officers were on scene at the time of the shooting have not yet been identified.

Those names are expected to be released after a Grand Jury reviews the circumstances with the Jackson County District Attorney’s office in order to determine whether the shooting was justified.

The officer involved in the shooting was placed on paid administrative leave, which Sickler described as standard procedure following any police shooting investigation.

Sickler said he knows of no other prior contact with law enforcement involving Varner. Oregon court records show Varner has no prior criminal history.

During the press conference, Sickler said incidents involving deadly force are “difficult for all.”

“We ask that the public be respectful of the decedent, the family and law enforcement during this difficult time,” Sickler said.

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

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler holds a press conference Thursday about the New Year's Day shooting where sheriff's deputies shot and killed a man who was holding a gun in an "aggressive manner." Nick Morgan / Mail Tribune