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Caught in the Crossfire (VIDEO)Story by Tim King Video by Jerry Freeman Salem-News.com
Police say 7 to 10 shots were fired on Lancaster Dr NE in Salem and it probably was gang related.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Scary moments for bystanders in Salem Thursday when a gunfight erupted on Lancaster Dr. NE at the Arco AM/PM mini mart and gas station on Lancaster and Ward Dr. NE.
A father and son in their family mini van was caught in the crossfire of the gunbattle that happened around 4:15 p.m. Thursday. It happened quickly, Artemio Mendez said.
Neither he or his father were hurt, but this local man says it was no way to close out 2009.
Lt. Shelia Lorance with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, says theirs is not the only vehicle that was hit.
"When deputies arrived the suspects had left and there was no evidence of injuries at the scene. However, two unrelated vehicles were struck with bullets and a bullet appears to have ricocheted off of a vehicle and struck an apartment building on Lancaster Drive."
As the bullet struck the Mendez mini van, it hit the rear seat, very close to the van's infant seat, which was unoccupied, and as the bullets flew, Artemio Mendez and his dad had an even bigger problem, their vehicle was running out of gas.
Fortunately for them, there was still enough fuel to get past the Arco station that they planned to enter. They pulled into an apartment parking lot north of the scene of the shooting on Lancaster Drive in Salem.
At this point, it still wasn't really clear to them what had happened, Artemio Mendez said.
"We were running out of gas, and we were going to turn left, we were waiting and talking over the radio, and all of a sudden we hear some gunshots, and all of a sudden we see these people dipping."
Bullet casings littered the ground at the Arco AM/PM on Lancaster.
The Marion County Sheriff's Office says the Mendez vehicle was struck as at least two groups fired back and forth at each other. They are looking for the shooters, one group was in the Arco station's parking lot.
Lorance said an adult female in a black and white striped shirt fired a handgun at another person in the parking lot and that person fired a handgun back at her.
"However, as deputies and detectives continue to investigate it appears both shooters were firing at another vehicle and not at each other. Although some of the reports vary it appears 4 to 6 people were involved and witnesses indicate they all left on foot."
There were 7 to 10 shots fired from at least two different caliber handguns according to Lorance, and the initial investigation indicates this was likely a gang related incident.
Mike Sindhs, who works at the Arco AM/PM mini mart says the shooter in the parking lot was male, "I saw the little kids, younger, he came over here and had a gun, I didn't see his face, and he's standing here and he's just like shoot so many times, I don't know how many bullets he shoot."
Marion County Detectives and Deputies are continuing the investigation into this case and ask if anyone has information regarding the suspects or this incident they call 503 588-5032.
Jerry Freeman is part of a new generation of dedicated news photographers who are entering the Internet news industry as a second career. He shares in common with many people the dream of becoming a visual journalist. Joining the Navy at an early age, and the Oregon Army Guard a few years later, Jerry has a wide range of life experiences. He describes himself as “an old truck driver with a new found passion to bare witness on the world’s events.” Teaming up with Salem-News.com he embarks on a new career as a video news photographer and reporter. Stay tuned, and see how it turns out. Jerry seems to exhibit natural talent and is already becoming a published member of the Salem-News.com team. You can send Jerry Freeman an email at this address: Salem-News@gravityshadow.com
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