PRINEVILLE, Ore. - (Update: Comments from police chief, neighbor-witness)
Prineville police on Monday identified a 56-year-old Prineville man who they said was shot and killed by another man Sunday afternoon during an altercation in front of the second man’s home on Northwest Second Street. But they also said the resident was released after questioning while the investigation continues.
Prineville Police Chief Dale Cummins said there's no reason for Prineville residents to worry about their safety.
"We don’t have any indication that he’s any threat to the community at all, that this was two people that knew each other that got into a disturbance, that a shot was fired," Cummins said. "But we do not think he’s a threat to the community, or we wouldn't have allowed him to leave."
Cummins said the two men involved in the altercation knew each other, but revealed no other details amid the ongoing investigation.
"This isn’t someone who was just walking down the street and got attacked by a stranger, which is more concerning for the community," he said. "This is a couple adult males who got into an argument and unfortunately one of them lost their lives."
Prineville police, Crook County sheriff’s deputies, Oregon State Police troopers and Crook County Fire and Rescue medics responded around 3:45 p.m. Sunday to the 900 block of Northwest Second Street on reports a man had been shot, police said.
The victim, identified Monday as Kenneth McBeth, died at the scene, Cummins said.
Prineville police, assisted by the Central Oregon Major Crimes Team, are investigating what took place and determined an altercation took place in front of a home occupied by a man known to McBeth, the police chief said.
During the altercation, the resident shot McBeth, who died a short distance away, Cummins said.
“The subject who fired the firearm was detained and questioned by detectives,” Cummins said in an updated news release Monday, adding, “This is an isolated incident between two known Prineville citizens, and there is no danger to the public.”
Several search warrants are being served, Cummins said, and the Oregon State Police Crime Lab is helping collect evidence.
“Once the evidence is collected and analyzed, a charging decision will be made,” the police chief said. “The subject involved was released while the investigation continues.”
No other information is being released, he said. Anyone with information or knowledge about the incident was urged to call Prineville police at 541-447-4168 and ask to speak with Detective Brandin Noland.
The section of Second Street where the fatal shooting occurred remained reopened by 5 P.M. Monday.
Neighbor Timothy Wilson said the gunman was banging on the door and broke a window to get into a mobile home.
"And he went one, two, three, and he grabbed a chair or something there -- I’m pretty sure it was a chair, because they used to sit over there, and he grabbed it, and put it right through the window," Wilson said "And the minute he did that, he reached in and then -- pow, first shot, slight pause, then 'pow pow'."
After the shooting, he said, McBeth staggered out for perhaps 20 steps before falling to the ground.
Wilson said the resident who fired the shots was still inside when police arrived, so officers staged outside and got him to come out, and he was taken into custody.
"They took up their position and ordered him out ,and after a few minutes he opened the door," Wilson said. "He did everything they asked, I mean hands straight up, walked backwards, down on his knees, he was very cooperative, didn’t say anything. It just shocked me."
Cummins confirmed to NewsChannel 21 that the man who fired the gun was inside his home when police arrived. As to the location of the shooting – inside or outside of the home – the police chief said that is part of the forensics investigation, as witnesses have provided differing accounts of what took place and where.
He also said an autopsy on the shooting victim was taking place Monday.