Oregon Officials Consult Precogs, Arrest Man for Bloody Shooting Spree That Killed Four Next Week

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Several Oregon government and law enforcement agencies are patting themselves on the back for preventing a possible mass shooting incident by sending a SWAT team to arrest a recently laid-off employee of the state’s Department of Transportation. A news release from the Medford, Oregon, police department (yes, they put out a news release announcing their good work) says the man purchased three guns after his dismissal, and that former colleagues described him as “very disgruntled.” He was taken to a mental hospital for evaluation.

The problem is that the man doesn’t appear to have committed any actual crimes. Authorities have filed no charges against him. He did recently buy three guns, but he purchased all three of them legally. A spokesman for the Oregon State Police told South Oregon’s Mail Tribune newspaper, “Instead of being reactive, we took a proactive approach.”

Now perhaps a recent layoff, the legal purchase of three guns, and concerns from former co-workers are indeed red flags that someone’s planning a rampage. And maybe this arrest really did save lives. But there’s a phrase we use to describe the sort of society where the police can come into your home, arrest you, commit you to a mental facility, and confiscate your legally-obtained property on no more than a hunch that you might commit some crime in the near future.

The article linked above is short on details. It will be interesting to see what legal authority these law enforcement agencies cited to get a search and/or arrest warrant—assuming they obtained one.

(Thanks to Andre Campos for the tip.)

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55 Responses to “Oregon Officials Consult Precogs, Arrest Man for Bloody Shooting Spree That Killed Four Next Week”

  1. #1 |  Matador | 

    After I was disharged The locks on the office doors wee changed and I was followed home by a Sheriff Unit, why? Because I was a “Vietnam Vet” and everyone knew that Nam vets were psycho crazed baby killers ready to wreak vengance on society. Jesus Wept. During that same time period three people were killed in an office by a disgruntled workers compensation claimant, another ex-husband went nuts in an office and tried to kill his ex-wife but killed a couple of innocent co-workers. This case sounds like The ODOT worker was set up by Mgmt.
    intent upon savaging him for some past indiscretion.
    I hope he sues the crap out of them although suing a Gov’t agency will be toughand expensive.

  2. #2 |  LawsuitLawsuit | 

    I smell a big fat LAWSUIT?! And not just against the police dept., but the city and even the people who DEFAMED this man on a mere suspicion?

  3. #3 |  Jim Chrystal | 

    I redact my earlier post based upon new information.

  4. #4 |  albatross | 

    Mass shootings are extremely rare, but the sort of broad “warning signs” (stuff like disgruntled ex-employee, recent bad divorce, gun purchases, mental health problems in the past, etc.) are rather common. The result is that:

    a. Almost anything you do to prevent them will overwhelmingly hassle people who weren’t going to do anything.

    b. There will almost never be a policeman who has ever actually successfully headed off a mass shooting involved in heading off another actual mass shooting. That is, individual policemen won’t get the kind of experience they get identifying drug dealers or whatever, because most will never see an actual mass-shooter.

    The math works out here in the same way as it does with profiling for terrorists. Bruce Schneier has written some nice articles explaining the problem in more depth.

    Heading off mass-shootings is incredibly hard, just as heading off terrorist attacks is incredibly hard. The local police probably overreacted, but it’s not clear what the right way to handle this was. At least they didn’t do anything irrevocable.

  5. #5 |  john | 

    your are more likely to be killed by a cop than a terriost or disgruntled employee