Detectives investigating suspected homicides, officer-involved shooting south of Lake Selmac

Multiple agencies are investigating after the discovery of two bodies in a burned-out vehicle, followed by an officer-involved shooting in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Posted: Mar 25, 2021 1:34 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2021 5:42 PM

SELMA, Ore. — Multiple agencies are investigating crime scenes in Josephine County after the discovery of two bodies in a burned-out vehicle, followed by an officer-involved shooting in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Just before 1 p.m. on Wednesday, the Josephine County Sheriff's Office received reports about a fully-involved vehicle fire in a remote wooded area off McMullen Creek Road, about seven miles from Lake Selmac. Firefighters from Illinois Valley Fire District, Sheriff's deputies, and Oregon State Police troopers all responded to the scene.

Firefighters were unable to reach the burning vehicle due to poor road conditions, the Sheriff's Office said. When the fire eventually died out, deputies found two bodies inside.

"As of the time of this press release, the identities of the victims are unknown," the Sheriff's Office said. "This incident is being treated as a homicide investigation. The victims have been transported to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office."

With two deaths linked to the fire, the Sheriff's Office activated the Josephine County Major Crimes Team to begin an investigation of the scene — bringing in resources from multiple law enforcement agencies. Just after midnight on Thursday, the shooting happened.

A little less than two miles away from the fire scene, deputies and state troopers were posted at a staging area when two vehicles drove up, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"While attempting to contact the first vehicle, an Officer Involved Shooting or 'OIS' took place," the Sheriff's Office said. "A Deputy from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office discharged their firearm at the vehicle. The first vehicle fled the scene and is at large at this time."

Because officers from both OSP and the Sheriff's Office were at the scene, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office was called in to lead an investigation into the shooting. The deputy who fired was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard policy for these cases.

The Sheriff's Office said that both investigations are still active, with the county District Attorney now handling any further release of information.

Rural Metro Fire also responded to a vehicle fire on Highway 199 near the base of Hayes Hill in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Flames consumed a minivan that was believed to be abandoned, and no one was located at the scene. The source of the fire is considered suspicious.

According to Rural Metro, investigators are now looking at this vehicle fire as potentially connected to the one off McMullen Creek Road.

 

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