Mailtribune.com - News for Medford, Ashland, Jacksonville and Southern Oregon

By Anita Burke
March 9, 2010

ODOT worker who'd been put on leave is mentally evaluated after buying
handguns, AK-47


Concerns about an Oregon Department of Transportation employee who
purchased several guns after being placed on leave prompted law
enforcement across Southern Oregon to step in.

Negotiators and a SWAT team from Medford police safely took a man
whose name wasn't released into protective custody Monday morning in
the 500 block of Effie Street, Medford police said in a news release.

He was taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center for a mental-health
evaluation.

The man recently had been placed on administrative leave from his job
and was "very disgruntled," the news release said.

ODOT Communications Director Patrick Cooney said there were
administrative, personnel matters involved that limited what the
department could discuss.

However, the state agency had reported concerns about the man to law
enforcement agencies, who started monitoring him, officials said.

"We had concerning information regarding a personnel issue and were
watching the subject," Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said.

In two days, the man bought a Heckler & Koch .45-caliber universal
self-loading handgun, a Walther .380-caliber handgun and an AK-47
assault rifle, Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said. All of those
firearms were purchased legally, with required record checks by the
Oregon State Police.

Authorities were "extremely concerned" that the man may have been
planning to retaliate against his employers, the news release said.

"Instead of being reactive, we took a proactive approach," OSP Sgt.
Jeff Proulx said.

Douglas and Jackson County sheriff's departments, OSP officers based
in both counties and police in Medford and Roseburg collaborated, he
said.

Medford police watched the man's home overnight, starting at about 9
p.m. Sunday, Hansen said.

Because he was known to have weapons, police wanted to defuse the
situation and ensure the man wasn't a danger to himself or others
before the neighborhood awakened and people started their daily
activities, Hansen said.

Medford's hostage negotiators and SWAT team were called in at 3 a.m.
Monday and arrived on the scene at about 5:45 a.m., he said.

About a dozen officers responded. They closed the street for about an
hour and evacuated three homes to protect neighbors and prevent
bystanders from gathering, he said.

After a phone conversation with negotiators, the man who was alone in
the home agreed to come out, Hansen said.

Police seized the recently purchased firearms, as well as another .45-
caliber Heckler & Koch handgun and a 12-gauge shotgun. Police are
holding the weapons for safekeeping, but no criminal charges have been
filed.