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COCC students, staff shocked by Sawyer disappearance


Tierra Newton is one of many Central Oregon Community College students who’s shocked by the disappearance and apparent killing of Kaylee Sawyer.

“It’s really scary to know that that could of been any one of us,” Newton said Tuesday.

Saywer went missing early Sunday morning near her west Bend apartment complex, which is just steps away from the college.

“I love to go on walks and I take my dogs all of the time and if something like that were to happen just out of the blue,” Newton said. “I mean it’s really scary to think about.”

Police are calling 31-year-old Redmond resident, Edwin Lara a “prime suspect” in the investigation.

Lara was a part-time public safety officer at COCC for almost two years.

Campus officials say Lara went through an extensive background check and training to be an officer.

“Our campus public safety officers go through extensive training on getting ready for the job and as one of our part time officers he would of gone through that training and background check,” said Ron Paradis, COCC’s communications director.

NewsChannel 21 did a court records search of Lara and found only nonviolent offenses such as speeding and driving with a suspended license.

Communications student Marissa Funk says she spends many late nights studying on campus, and will now take extra precaution during her walks home.

“It’s just really scary, especially because Bend is such a safe place,” Funk said. “And all of the police are so nice, and public safety officers are so nice. And to hear that someone who is meant to keep us safe is the person of interest is really freaky.”

Paradis recommends students always have a buddy when walking late at night.

“We also encourage people to walk in pairs late at night. You know, it’s dark, and the campus is large, in a very wooded area,” he said. “And so we do encourage people to walk in pairs and call if you need an escort.”

Pardais says since the incident, there is a heightened awareness of safety on campus, and the college is doing everything it can to keep its students protected, while also sending thoughts and prayers to Sawyer’s family.

“It’s difficult to think about that and her family,” Paradis said. “I just can’t imagine what her family is going through.”

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