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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Man faces murder charge in Sumpter shooting

Man faces murder charge in Sumpter shooting

SUMPTER — Police arrested Daniel Myers, 55, of Sumpter Thursday afternoon at his home, and he will be arraigned today on charges of murder and other crimes in connection with the shooting death of Travis Weems of Hermiston.

Sumpter emergency responders found Weems, 39, dead in his vehicle at 3:14 a.m. Thursday in the parking lot of the Elkhorn Saloon on Mill Street, the main thoroughfare of Sumpter, a community of 170 about 28 miles southwest of Baker City.

 

An ambulance was dispatched to the parking lot after the shooting was reported to the Baker County Consolidated Dispatch Center at 3:10 a.m.

“This initial investigation indicates that Mr. Weems was shot by Daniel Myers outside of Myers’ home on Cracker Creek Road,” District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said. “Weems was then driven by a friend into Sumpter in an attempt to get emergency assistance.”

Weems is a former Baker County resident.

The Baker County Major Crime Team was activated Thursday morning and was joined later in the day by members of the Union County Combined Emergency Response Team. An estimated 30 officers from city, county and state agencies helped with the investigation and Myers’ arrest.

Shirtcliff said the Union County team was called after Myers refused to come out of his house in a wooded area about a mile north of Sumpter. Myers was arrested about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

He was transported to the Baker County Jail where he is being held today.

Shirtcliff said the case will go before a grand jury next week. He declined to talk about any potential motive for the shooting.

Weems’ body was taken to Portland where an autopsy will be performed today, Shirtcliff said.

Shirtcliff said the day-long effort to apprehend Myers required careful planning.

“A lot of work goes into making sure entry into the home is done in a safe manner — for everybody,” he said.

No shots were fired. About 10 gunshot-like sounds could be heard in downtown Sumpter as officers attempted to make entry into Myers’ home. Shirtcliff said the noise was related to the Union County team’s deployment of a nonlethal gas-like chemical irritant that got Myers and two other people in the home to come out.

About an hour after Myers was arrested, investigators, including an Oregon State Police forensics vehicle, traveled down Cracker Creek Road to Myers’ house to process the scene. Police also interviewed the other people who were at Myers’ home when he was arrested.

Shirtcliff said Myers will be charged with the weapons crimes because of a 2006 Lincoln County felony drug conviction.

Two command posts were set up in Sumpter as the hunt for the suspect got under way Thursday morning. The county’s mobile communications unit was parked at City Hall on Mill Street and a second command center was set up in the former Sumpter School building on the north end of town.

Dozens of police vehicles were parked around town and at both command stations throughout the day.

Sunshine warmed Carl and Dee Swinyer as they sat on the porch of the Gold Post Country Store with owner Gary Gunter for a front-row seat to watch police activity as it unfolded.

Dee Swinyer said she heard about the shooting on the police scanner at her Sumpter home as soon as dispatchers began paging the ambulance shortly after 3 a.m.

“I’ve always had a scanner, even when they weren’t popular,” she said, adding that the early morning wake-up call wasn’t much ahead of her usual rising time of between 3 and 4 a.m.

The Swinyers and Gunter said they didn’t know Myers or Weems.

But speculation about what exactly happened and where the shooting took place had been circulating through the community, Dee said. She expressed her concern for the officers and the suspect as the investigation continued.

“I just hope everybody is going to be OK,” she said.

Richard Epler, who owns the Elkhorn Saloon with his wife, Sharyn, said they closed up about 11 Wednesday night after a local pool tournament had ended. Most nights they close by 8 p.m., he said.

The couple lives a mile and a half south of the small Grant County community of Granite, 15 miles northwest of Sumpter.

The Eplers knew nothing about the shooting or the police activity in town until their daughter, Carilyn Gibson, saw the commotion around her parents’ business while walking to the store Thursday morning.

She called about 8 a.m. to report that police had cordoned off the parking lot of the Elkhorn Saloon with crime scene tape, Richard Epler said.

The Eplers had to delay their usual noon opening until about 2 p.m. Thursday. That’s when the Toyota Corolla in which Weems’ body was found was towed away and their parking lot was reopened. The car was towed to a secure location, Shirtcliff said.

“Everybody’s wondering what’s going on,” Epler said, adding that police were not providing any details.

Epler said he did not know Weems and that Myers came into his business only occasionally.

The Eplers moved to Sumpter about six years ago after retiring from jobs at the Fred Meyer distribution center in Clackamas.

“We left that area to get away from that kind of stuff,” Epler said of the violence that disrupted Sumpter on Thursday.

 
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