Veteran Shot at VA Facility in Southern Oregon After Causing Disturbance

 In Veterans

On January 25,  a man walked into the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics in White City, Oregon for an appointment and  began “causing a disturbance,” and “produced a knife.” A VA security officer shot the man once in the chest. The man was later identified as Gilbert Matthew Negrete, 34 – he was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

One witness said he was shot in the “gut.” Police say it was the “upper chest.”

Police deployed pepper spray in an effort to calm Negrete, but it was ineffective. Persons under the influence of certain types of drug may not react to the chemical.

It turns out that Mr. Negrete has been in trouble before, and was the suspect in an earlier incident with a knife that day.

PTSD? Drug-induced paranoia? Both?

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Press Release:

Investigators are releasing additional information in the January 25 shooting at the VA SORCC in White City. Detectives have spoken to several witnesses, reviewed video surveillance footage, and gathered other items of evidence.

Detectives learned Gilbert Matthew Negrete, 34, of Medford, arrived at the Veterans Affairs SORCC clinic on the morning of January 25 for a scheduled appointment. Negrete began causing a disturbance, pacing around the admissions area of building 201 in an agitated state. Contrary to previous media reports, staff members and patients told investigators Negrete was not voicing frustration about health care or VA policies; his statements were paranoid and generally incoherent.

VA Police were called to the area by staff to address the disturbance. Just prior to officers’ arrival, Negrete produced a knife and confronted a SORCC employee. Staff members and police officers attempted to calm Negrete for several minutes and called for assistance.

VA Police used multiple applications of less-lethal force options in an attempt to subdue and disarm Negrete. Negrete became combative with officers. A VA Police officer fired one round, striking Negrete in the upper chest. Police officers and staff rendered aid until Jackson County Fire District #3 and Mercy Flights medics arrived on scene.

Negrete has been in JCSO custody since his transport to Rogue Regional Medical Center for treatment for a single gunshot wound. Upon release from the hospital, he will be lodged in the Jackson County jail on charges of unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, disorderly conduct, and violation of a restraining order.

The names of the involved officers will be released at a later date. Veterans Affairs officials are conducting an internal investigation, standard protocol for an officer-involved shooting.

Detectives learned local law enforcement agencies have had several contacts with Negrete recently. Negrete was arrested by Medford Police on January 23 after a short vehicle pursuit. He was lodged in jail on charges of DUII (controlled substance) and attempting to elude police in a vehicle. Negrete was released from jail on January 24 due to capacity restrictions.

On the afternoon of January 24, JCSO deputies responded to a report of menacing at a towing business on Table Rock Road. An employee reported being threatened with a “butcher knife” by a man who wanted to retrieve his vehicle from the impound lot. Negrete is the suspect in that case. He left in a vehicle before deputies’ arrival and was not located.

Detectives with the Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) continue their investigation into the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call the JCSO tip line at (541) 774-8333. Further information regarding the criminal investigation will be released by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office at a later date.

The shooting has been ruled justifiable by a Grand Jury.

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brian tallyCarlos Hathcock