Shoplifter meets violent end
An off-duty Medford police officer today shot and killed an allegedly knife-wielding shoplifter who aggressively brandished the knife at the officer in the parking lot of a Medford oil-change shop after a foot chase, police said.
The unidentified officer and others apparently chased the man across Crater Lake Highway into the Pennzoil 10-Minute Oil Change lot at the intersection of Delta Waters Road at about 1:50 p.m. following a shoplifting incident at the nearby Sportsman's Warehouse, where he menaced employees with a knife, police said.
Jeremy Holeman was pumping gas at the adjacent Arco station when he saw the suspect run across the highway, into the station's lot, through a hedge and into the oil shop lot with the plainly dressed off-duty officer following him.
"He yelled, 'Stop! Police!'" Holeman said of the officer.
The alleged shoplifter then stopped next to a Dumpster and was about 6 feet away from the officer when the shooting occurred, Holeman said.
"I heard two loud pops," Holeman said. "I thought it was a stun gun at first."
A customer at the oil changing station said she saw the man holding a knife before the shots were fired. The woman, who declined to give her name, said she was getting her car serviced and saw the shooting in her rear-view mirror, but could not discern the type or size of the knife.
Several other witnesses told police that the officer identified himself to the suspect before the shooting.
Medford police Interim Chief Randy Sparacino said the shooting may have been filmed on surveillance videos from area businesses, "but until we review them we won't know what they captured."
While police immediately characterized the alleged knife-brandishing as "in an aggressive manner," a review of the videos also may lead to more evidence in just how the victim brandished the knife at the officer prior to the shooting, Sparacino said.
The officer was placed on paid administrative leave, police said. The victim's identity was being withheld pending family notification.
The officer was a customer inside Sportsman's Warehouse when store employees detained the man suspected of shoplifting, police said in a statement released this evening. The suspect menaced the employees with a knife before fleeing the store, with the off-duty officer giving chase, police said.
Medford police officers swarmed onto the scene after the shooting. Medford firefighters determined that the suspected shoplifter was dead. The man's body could be seen in the parking lot lying face-up before police cars blocked the public's view.
Employees from the oil-change shop and adjacent car wash stood around stunned in the lot as police cordoned off the area and began interviewing witnesses while the officer who fired the shots was taken to the Medford Police Department.
Sparacino said investigators planned an 11 a.m. Tuesday press conference to release more details.
The last officer-involved shooting in Medford occurred on May 31, 2015, when Cpl. Tom Venables shot and killed James Anthony Morris, 40, on La Loma Drive after Morris pointed a weapon at Venables and made threatening statements following a domestic disturbance.
A Jackson County grand jury later ruled that Venables was justified in using deadly force after hearing evidence that Morris advanced on him carrying a 9 mm pistol, raised it and told Venables, "I'm going to make you do this," according to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.