May 2010 Lowell,OR – A suspect is in jail after a deadly shooting at a church in Lowell Wednesday night.
The shooting happened about 8:23 p.m. at the Jehovah’s Witness’s Kingdom Hall on Pioneer Street.
Lane County sheriff’s deputies state that it started as a hostage situation and developed into a deadly shooting.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Fred Swank said, “We have a homicide that was witnessed and we have a suspect who was identified.”
Robert Riley Gonzales, 34, was caught 3½ hours later, after an intensive search on the ground and from the air. Gonzales was first taken to a hospital for treatment of bite wounds from a police dog, and then to the Lane County jail.
Investigators say Gonzales knew the victim, 48-year-old Kenneth Harry Mort.
Like other residents of Lowell, Chris Slater, who lives near the Kingdom Hall, is trying to process in his own mind what happened.
“It’s nuts, man,” Salter said. “This is a small town. You don’t hear of this happening very often, you know what I mean? I want to make sure everything’s going to be okay. I want to make sure this town’s safe.”
A second investigation site is on West Boundary Road, three miles to the east of the church. That is where deputies say Gonzales went after the shooting, parked his vehicle and fled into the nearby woods. There, officers found and removed Gonzales’s pickup truck for investigation.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office says it is handing the investigation over to the District Attorney’s Office.