MEDFORD, Ore. — Police have released the details of a standoff in Medford this morning, March 9. The suspect who was found holding a young woman against her will in a vehicle was engaging in sex trafficking, according to the Medford Police Department (MPD).
Lemarr Mitchell, 45, was taken into police custody after a tense encounter on the 700 block of East 9th Street, near Cottage Street.
A report came to the MPD this morning from a woman in California, who claimed that her 20-year-old daughter was being held against her will somewhere in Medford. Police believe that the victim was actually texting a man in California, who was then relaying information to the mother.
The victim relayed to her mother that she was frightened and unable to escape. However, she was able to inform police of her approximate location—in a house, or a vehicle with Texas plates, near East 9th and Cottage.
Officers descended on the area 40 minutes after the initial report, finding a white Ford Fusion with Texas plates. They found the female victim in the car's passenger seat, and an uncooperative Mitchell in the driver's seat.
The victim was able to escape the vehicle, but Mitchell refused to exit. Officers and negotiators communicated with Mitchell by PA and by phone, but the suspect still refused to surrender. Police were unsure if Mitchell was armed.
The standoff continued for over an hour until the Medford Police SWAT team responded. Using a "diversionary device" (referred to in our first story as a glass breaker), the SWAT team were able to force Mitchell to exit the car.
According to MPD, Mitchell was uninjured during his arrest. However, Mitchell told detectives that he had ingested narcotics and marijuana. The suspect was brought to a hospital to be cleared.
After speaking with the victim, investigators now believe that she was sex trafficked in a number of states. Mitchell is now being held in the Jackson County Jail for Promoting Prostitution, Compelling Prostitution, and Trafficking in Persons.
An Advocate from the Rebecca Bender Initiative was summoned and has been with the victim providing support. For more information on the Rebecca Bender Initiative please visit the website at www.rebeccabender.org.