ASHLAND, Ore. – A 74-year old man is confirmed dead after yesterday’s officer involved shooting in Ashland. Two deputies shot and killed Earl C. Harris after Sheriff Mike Winters says he brandished a shotgun during an eviction notice.
Now bomb squad sweeps of the scene have revealed six improvised explosive devices among a small stockpile of weapons, as OSP teams continue to search the scene.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Winters said the incident started during delivery of a foreclosure notice. Harris had been resisting eviction ever since the bank repossessed his property in September, 2013.
“Things started off, I would say, fairly well,” said Winters. “Then Mr. Harris took the conversation down another path.”
Sheriff Winters says, during the course of the eviction, Harris suddenly retreated from the front door of the home to the bedroom. Deputies followed him in, at which point Winters says Harris came out of the room pointing a shotgun at them.
Two deputies fired before Harris could pull the trigger.
“The deputies that fired the shots immediately attempted first aid on Mr. Harris, but he was deceased,” said Winters.
Harris, the only resident of the house, was known to deputies. He had been served multiple eviction notices, and was known for being anti-authority – posting no trespassing signs and an upside-down American flag on his property.
Winters says the deputies on-scene had prepared for a confrontation, even bringing a four-person SWAT team to the house visit.
Meanwhile, several neighbors indicated that Harris had been odd, even threatening at times.
“The guy was a very colorful individual,” said Alan Weiss, an employee at Blackstone Audio, a business next door to the home.
But not all neighbors described Harris as unpleasant. One neighbor, who chose not to be named, said he had known Harris for 14 years and described him as “neighborly.”
The two deputies will now be subject to a grand jury investigation. In the meantime, they’ll be placed on administrative leave as a matter of protocol.