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Police chief emphasizes causes of recent crimes

The back window of this Honda, which was parked in front of a home on the 4900 block of 13th Avenue early Sunday morning, May 15, was shattered by a bullet. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
The back window of this Honda, which was parked in front of a home on the 4900 block of 13th Avenue early Sunday morning, May 15, was shattered by a bullet. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

A drive-by shooting last weekend means there has been a major crime in Keizer each of the past four months.

No one was injured early Sunday morning, May 15 when several shots were fired at a house and a car on the 4900 block of 13th Avenue North.

In February Jerrid Goodpaster was fatally shot at Keizer Station, while in March there was an armed robbery at One Stop Smoke Shop and a shooting in the Bi-Mart parking lot. In April there was a fatal stabbing at a residence on Brooks Avenue.

Not surprisingly, the string of crimes has left some Keizerites on edge and wondering what’s going on.

John Teague, Keizer police chief, sought to calm fears on Monday.

“We’re thankful that the incidents previous to this one weren’t long investigations: we very quickly figured out who-done-it and affirmed that the public wasn’t in danger of random victimization,” Teague told the Keizertimes. “The common denominator to all of the earlier incidents is a high-risk lifestyle involving intoxicants. The shootings, for example, allegedly involved drug debts, not something for which a guy turns to the police or the courts for resolution.”

Teague said in some respects last weekend’s shooting was “qualitatively different” from the other incidents.

“In another way – if there was a high-risk lifestyle – it may be quite like them; we’re continuing to investigate,” Teague said. “In the meantime, I expect most people aren’t fearful that they or their homes are at similar risk. Still, even apart from running with a risk-prone crowd, it’s a legitimate concern that a good guy may suffer merely for being around one of these things when it unravels. Even the most diligently aware person, for example, wouldn’t have avoided the shopping center or coffee shop where and when the shootings occurred.”

So why are the incidents happening here, and why now?

“There really is no pattern in the randomness,” Teague said. “Similar to if a guy threw handfuls of marbles across a floor, he would expect to see most of the marbles spread out, but some will group together, even where there’s no obvious reason for it, like a dip in the floor. I suspect that’s where the public is at the moment: trying to make sense of an otherwise random – yet still small – accumulation of violent crimes in Keizer.”

Teague emphasized some members of the Keizer Police Department have a specific task in regards to crimes.

“They are pretty good at figuring out root causes for crime – looking for what’s common amid the apparent randomness – and then fixing those problems and preventing crimes from happening,” he said. “We cops will remain proficient and attentive, working to squash these things as they happen, even if they’re random enough that we can’t predict and prevent them, keeping them from spilling over too intimately into the lives of the norms-following public.”

Teague, who also touched on the issue at Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting, said there is some simple advice to follow.

“People need to remain prudently careful and aware, but they don’t need to worry,” he said. “Life is risky, but the risk of being the victim of a violent crime is almost negligible if a person doesn’t engage in high-risk activities.”

According to the KPD, last Sunday’s shooting was reported at 2:17 a.m., though one neighbor told the Keizertimes about being awakened by the shots at 1:43 a.m. Deputy Chief Jeff Kuhns with the KPD said the victims did not call the police until 2:17, though an initial call of shots being fired came at 1:54.

Margarito Galvez Jr. said he was at a nearby friend’s house when his sister called him. Galvez said it took him about 30 seconds to get home.

Galvez said his wife, two young daughters and his sister were at home at the time. He said shells from a gun were found.

According to Galvez as well as the KPD, no one was injured in the shooting.

“No arrests have been made and the incident remains under investigation,” the release said in part.

Kuhns said a vehicle was spotted, but cautioned there’s no confirmation it was in connection with the shooting.

“There was a report of a black vehicle speeding in the area, but at this time I am hesitant to call it the suspect vehicle,” Kuhns said on Monday. “There is no other information about the suspect(s).”

Galvez said based on the location of where the shells were found, he didn’t think it was a drive-by shooting. He noted he had no idea who could have done the shooting.

“The guy was here in the driveway,” he said. “The guy was here to do whatever the hell he was here to do.”

Galvez noted he was looking at buying his house, but wasn’t sure if the shooting would change those plans.

“If I ran and they keep chasing me, that won’t do any good,” he said. “I want to help the cops find whoever the hell it was. I had (an inflatable) swimming pool in the front yard. If I wanted trouble, I wouldn’t have that.”

Galvez noted a Honda was parked head-first in the driveway. The car was hit by several bullets, with one shattering the back window. A shot also hit the windshield, with one of the bullets hitting the driver’s seat headrest.

Galvez also showed the Keizertimes bullet holes in the front of the house. One hit the front window, while another hit right below the window and went through a couch positioned in front of the window.

“The first thing that caught my eye was the back window (of the Honda),” Galvez said. “Then I saw the bullet holes in the house. It’s scary. I’m from Los Angeles. I moved here to get away from this (stuff). This is scary.”

Galvez said he’s currently on probation but isn’t mixed up with a bad crowd.

“I don’t do drugs, I don’t owe anyone anything,” he said. “My neighbors see me out here and see the things I’m doing. I pressure wash my driveway and I mow the lawn. I’m trying to be a good neighbor.”

Anyone with information about Sunday’s shooting is asked to contact detective Arsen Avetisyan with the KPD at 503-390-3713 Ext. 3514.