Witnesses describe officer-involved shooting at VA facilities

White City, Ore. — “I just hear… ‘he’s got a knife! he’s got a knife!’ And then BAM,” one witness to the incident said.

Just before 8:30 Thursday morning, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office got a call about an officer-involved shooting at the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center.

“It was shocking. I haven’t heard a weapon fired in a long time,” a witness, who wants to remain anonymous, said.

While the sheriff’s office is still investigating what events led up to the shooting, it’s been confirmed the victim was a veteran and outpatient to the facility.

He was immediately sent to Rogue Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

“When he was transported to the hospital, he was conscious, breathing and talking,” Sergeant Julie Denney with Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said.

According to witnesses, the man was shouting about healthcare and acting belligerent.

While it hasn’t been confirmed with investigators, witnesses also say the VA officer used a taser and pepper spray before firing the gun.

But VA outpatient Joel Setzer says that doesn’t make him feel any better.

“How big of a knife could he have had? And yet, why do they have live rounds when they know the PTSD issues that vets have,” Setzer said.

Setzer says the VA campus has strict weapons security, and he’s not convinced the man posed a huge threat.

“You can’t get through admissions with a knife hanging off your pouch,” Setzer said.

Until the Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit finishes its work, the rehabilitation center will remain closed with limited appointments.

“We do have veterans that live at the facility, so our number-one priority is to make sure that they are safe,” SORCC Public Affairs Specialist Rhonda Haney said.

In the meantime, Setzer says he’ll be saying his prayers for the man who was shot, and for those who had to witness it.

“There’s gonna be a lot of tears because this should never happen… this shouldn’t happen,” Setzer said.

One VA resident says she’s thankful for the work of the VA police. She says they do a good job at protecting patients, and she thinks they probably saved lives Thursday morning.

If you happened to witness the officer-involved shooting, please contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

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