Bensel and Sagebrush

A stop sign marks the intersection of Sagebrush Road and Bensel Road near Hermiston on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020.

An altercation between four males resulted in the shooting death of two of them and a gunshot wound to a third, according to Sheriff Terry Rowan.

Rowan said at 8:18 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, dispatch received a call from Alejandro Madrigal of Umatilla stating that he and his father, Jaime Madrigal, had been in an altercation with Raymond Rios and Hugo Madrigal-Leon on Sagebrush Road near Bensel Road outside Hermiston. According to Rowan, Alejandro said Jaime had been shot and that Alejandro had shot Rios and Madrigal-Leon in self-defense.

Law enforcement arrived to find Raymond Ryan Rios, 18, and Hugo Madrigal-Leon, 19, both of Hermiston, deceased. Rowan said Jaime was treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound, and Alejandro had some injuries stemming from the initial altercation. They cooperated with law enforcement.

He said Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, Umatilla Morrow Major Crime Team, the Oregon State Police Forensics Lab and Umatilla County District Attorney were still investigating and “sorting things out.”

He said at this time he was not aware of whether the shooting had any connections to other shooting incidents earlier in the year. He also said it is believed that the four named above were the only ones involved in the incident, which is why USCO’s first release of information on the morning of Friday, Oct. 30, stated, “At this time, there is no reason to believe there is any outstanding danger to the community.”

The incident represented the fourth and fifth possible homicide deaths in or just outside of Hermiston this year. Law enforcement has also reported at least four drive-by shootings of vehicles or homes where no one was injured, and in August a man was seriously injured in a shooting in the parking lot of the Hermiston Safeway.

Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston said the pandemic has caused such unusual circumstances this year that it is hard to consider crime statistics from 2020 and previous years an “apples to apples” comparison. Overall, however, reported crime in Hermiston for the first three quarters of 2020 has dropped by 32% compared with the same period in 2019, and violent crime is down 23%, according to records Edmiston provided the East Oregonian. But the increase in shooting incidents in the area compared to recent years is an unfortunate, serious development, he said.

The third-quarter crime report shows either one or zero homicides or attempted homicides each year in Hermiston from 2011 to 2019. FBI data going back even further shows the same trend of one or zero homicides per year reported by HPD going back to 2009. FBI statistics show Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office reported five homicides in its jurisdiction in 2016, and between zero and two all other years between 2009 and 2019.

Edmiston referred questions about the specific details of the Oct. 29 shooting to the sheriff’s office, but in answer to a question about whether the shooting appeared to be connected to any other shooting incidents in the Hermiston area this year, he did say that when more information is released there might “be some dots that could be connected.”

He said HPD continues to investigate major crimes from earlier in 2020. In the case of Jordan Delano Crandall, who was found deceased with a gunshot wound outside of Hermiston on March 18, he said law enforcement is getting closer to being able to provide “some resolution.” In the case of Jesus Eli Lopez, who was found deceased of a gunshot wound in Hermiston on June 9, Edmiston said they are also making headway working with law enforcement in another state in regards to a suspect.

While Rowan said he did not know for sure whether either Rios or Madrigal-Leon were students at Hermiston School District, the district sent out a news release on Friday afternoon stating it had learned of the death of a senior at Hermiston High School and a recent graduate of the school. The district stated that a “virtual safe room” had been set up and counselors were available to speak to students and staff who were struggling with the news.

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