The death of Wade Bonner, a 37-year-old Irrigon man, has been ruled as a suicide following an investigation that began as 911 call from Bonner reporting two men stealing gas on his property.

Bonner made that call at roughly 4:54 a.m. on May 24. A Morrow County Deputy found Bonner shot to death in a lot behind his residence approximately 15 minutes later. The Morrow/Umatilla Major Crime Team was called in to investigate what was initially believed to be a homicide.

Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson said from the very beginning Bonner’s death was investigated as a murder.

“It has to take a lot of facts for us to stray away from that,” Nelson said.

Early on, however, evidence began pointing away from homicide.

Investigators found a set of footprints near Bonner’s body, but only one instead of two. According to Nelson, there was also no way to tell how old the footprints were.

“That was a concern,” Nelson said.

Investigators also found video surveillance cameras near the Irrigon Skate Park that had a clear view of two sides of the Bonner property.

 “It actually sees the whole road,” Nelson said. “We were able to watch that and see the whole time frame.”

According to Nelson, there was no evidence of anyone else, either on foot or in a vehicle, in the area during the time of Bonner’s death. Adding to the growing evidence of suicide was the fact that there was no sign of a struggle, and the only shell casing found at the scene matched a handgun belonging to Bonner.

Bullet fragments discovered during the autopsy, conducted May 25, also matched Bonner’s gun.

In addition to the physical evidence found at the scene, Nelson said certain personal matters, including economic difficulties, were plaguing Bonner.

“There were a lot of things coming to a head on the 24th,” Nelson said of Bonner. “We could see the progress.”

According to Nelson, Bonner had a happy home life, and he and his wife were planning on building a home near his parents’ house, where they were living. Bonner, according to Nelson, didn’t want to disappoint his family, including his wife and parents.

“They had all been told different things,” Nelson said. “He didn’t want to let anybody down.”

Nelson speculated that Bonner’s motivation to avoid hurting his family may have led to the charade on the morning of the May 24.

“If you died based upon trying to protect your property or somebody else’s property, that’s different (than suicide),” Nelson said.

Nelson added that he would not release the details of Bonner’s difficulties that may have led to his suicide, but said his family “understood.”

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