PRINEVILLE, Ore. - (Update: Comments from brother, more details)
A New Year’s Eve gathering at a downtown Prineville restaurant’s bar erupted in gunfire early Monday, leaving a 38-year-old Bend man in critical condition with several gunshot wounds and a 26-year-old Prineville man in jail on attempted murder and assault charges, police said.
Prineville police, Crook County sheriff’s deputies and Oregon State Police responded around 1:15 a.m. to a report of shots fired in the bar of the Crossroads BBQ Pit & Pub at 121 Northeast Third Street, Police Chief Dale Cummins said.
Officers found the victim, Nicholas Dale Ricks, 38, of Bend, still inside the bar area with several gunshot wounds, Cummins said. Ricks was taken by ambulance first to St. Charles Prineville, where he was resuscitated and stabilized. He was then transfered by ambulance (helicopters could not fly due to fog) to St. Charles Bend, where the police chief said he was in critical condition Monday.
Police searched the area early Monday and found the alleged gunman, Omar Ramzi Araim of Prineville walking north near the Horseshoe Saloon in the 400 block of North Main Street. Cummins said the handgun was recovered 10 to 15 feet away. A search warrant was sought to test the suspect's blood alcohol content.
The police chief said the shooting was not random and targeted the victim.
Araim was taken into custody without incident and later booked into the Crook County Jail on charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault.
Other charges were added later Monday, including six counts of reckless endangering and single counts of unlawful use of a weapon, pointing a firearm at another and discharge of a weapon. Araim's total bail increased to $445,000, pending an initial court appearance expected Tuesday afternoon.
The Central Oregon Major Crimes Team was contacted, which is the normal procedure for such cases, Cummins said in a news release. The police chief said, “We believe all parties involved in this incident are accounted for and there is no danger or outstanding threats to our citizens regarding this event.”
Cummins told NewsChannel 21 police are reviewing video from the bar. He said the initial investigation and witness interviews indicated Ricks was among those trying to break up a fight between two women when Araim, who was in the corner of the bar, pulled out a gun and started firing.
Anyone with information regarding the shooting is urged to contact Prineville police Sgt. James Peterson at 541-447-8336.
The OSP Forensics Team was still at the restaurant Monday morning, gathering evidence, and the bar area of the restaurant was closed to the public.
A family member of the victim, who also was at the bar, said there was a bouncer on duty.
John Ricks, Nicholas's brother, told NewsChannel 21 that his family is devastated by what happened.
Nicholas, who has a wife and four children, was at Crossroads to celebrate New Year's Eve with his wife.
Ricks said his brother, a veteran and Mountain View High School graduate, was in the intensive care unit at Saint Charles Bend.
"He got shot six times," John Ricks said. "Four of the bullets were through his back. He got shot in the back, while his back was turned to the man. Two went into his right arm. He got a bullet lodged in his spinal cord they cannot remove. Both of his kidneys were hit, his liver was hit, his colon was hit.
"My brother is a very strong man and we're going to get through this. We have a long road ahead of us," he added.
Online court records show Araim was charged March 30 in Deschutes County with speeding, DUII and unlawful possession of a firearm.
He pleaded no contest to speeding in late April and was fined $435. He entered guilty pleas in early June. He was fined a total of $590, the firearm was seized and he was sentenced to probation and an alcohol treatment program. Other conditions included no driving after consuming alcohol and completing a victim impact panel.
A Sept. 19 evaluation report indicated Araim had completed all recommended services.
In Crook County, Araim was cited Sept. 9 on a harassment charge, a Class B misdemeanor. In a Dec. 26 court filing in the case, he was accused of intentionally subjecting a woman to "offensive physical contact." He was scheduled for arraignment on the charge Jan. 17.