SALEM, Ore. — A man made paranoid and incoherent statements at a Veterans Affairs clinic and confronted an employee with a knife before he was shot by a security officer, law enforcement officials said Friday.
Gilbert Matthew Negrete, 34, of Medford, remained in a hospital in Medford on Friday after being shot once in the chest by a Veterans Affairs police officer Thursday in nearby White City, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement that Negrete had a run-in with the law earlier in the week.
Police had arrested Negrete on Tuesday on charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and attempting to elude police. He was released from jail Wednesday due to jail overcrowding. The sheriff’s office said a man believed to be Negrete then tried to get his car from an impound lot and allegedly threatened an employee with a knife.
Negrete had an appointment at the VA clinic on Thursday, the sheriff’s office statement said.
Veterans at the clinic receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues expressed shock about the shooting near the admissions area.
Shawn Quall, an Army veteran of the first Gulf War who is from Bend, Oregon, said he heard the man shouting before the situation escalated.
“I was walking down the main hallway when I overheard a veteran yelling at intake people that he was here for the fifth time trying to get health care, and was upset at what he thought was a runaround,” Quall said in a telephone interview soon after the shooting.
Quall said he heard the yelling get louder and someone shouted “He’s got a knife!” before a shot was fired.
The sheriff’s office said staff members and patients told investigators that Negrete had not voiced frustration about health care or VA policies.
VA police had tried “less-lethal force options” to disarm Negrete before one of the officers fired, the sheriff’s office said.
The names of the officers involved were being withheld. Veterans Affairs officials are investigating, the statement said.
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