Double homicide and police shooting reported in Josephine County
One Josephine County sheriff’s deputy is on leave and a fatal vehicle fire investigation is now considered a potential double homicide following a Wednesday night shootout near where the fire occurred.
The vehicle fire was first reported a few minutes before 1 p.m. roughly 7 miles away from Lake Selmac, according to a release from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.
First-responders including the Illinois Valley Fire Department, the sheriff’s office and Oregon State Police headed to the fully involved fire in a wooded area near McMullen Creek Road, but poor road conditions prevented firefighters from quickly getting to the burning vehicle.
After the flames died down on their own, first-responders found two bodies inside the vehicle. The victims’ identities are unknown as of Thursday, according to police, and the human remains have since been transferred to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office.
Police believe that a midnight incident that culminated with an officer-involved shooting may be related to the fire and homicide investigation.
Police say that at 12:06 a.m. Thursday, two trucks pulled up to a Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police staging area roughly 2 miles from the fire wreckage.
For reasons not disclosed in the release, an unidentified sheriff’s deputy ultimately “discharged their firearm” at the the first vehicle, and the second vehicle fled the scene.
As of Thursday afternoon, the vehicle is still outstanding, but the sheriff’s office has not yet released a vehicle description.
The release does not say whether anyone was injured in the shooting, what exactly prompted the police shooting, or provide any vehicle descriptions, and an email to the sheriff’s office was not immediately returned.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will handle the investigation into the police shooting because OSP was at the scene during the vehicle fire and homicide investigation. As per protocol, the deputy involved in the shooting is on paid administrative leave until the completion of the investigation and clearance by a Josephine County grand jury.