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Residents near China Hat Road upset after recent string of crimes, continuing issues in homeless camps

La Pine SWAT arrest DCSO 12-9
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
DCSO SWAT Team and detectives arrested three suspects in an RV theft, shooting at a La Pine-area home on Saturday
Burned stolen trailer China Hat DCSO 12-9
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
Remains of burned, allegedly stolen fifth-wheel camper in China Hat area south of Bend

(Update: Adding video, comments from concerned China Hat Road neighbors)

Woman shot in shoulder trying to stop pickup theft; SWAT Team, detectives arrest 3 suspects near La Pine

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Three transients tying to steal an RV from a camp off China Hat Road south of Bend early Saturday morning were pursued by two others when it became stuck, and a confrontation led to gunshots, one striking a woman in the shoulder, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said. Detectives and the SWAT Team later arrested the two men and a woman at a La Pine-area home.

The latest alleged crimes, following a violent encounter with a visiting family, have residents on Bend's south end upset and voicing their concerns.

"In this case, a gal got shot, they lit the RV on fire that they were trying to steal from the guy that died in it just a day prior, and two different parties are trying to steal it. It's absolutely crazy," Kevin Guadagno, a 35-year Bend resident, said Tuesday.

A concerned neighbor told NewsChannel 21, "Drive out through some of those roads, you'll see a large portion of those being out-of-state plates or people that have recently come here."

"It's wildfire, not to mention the littering and black water dumping and illegal tree deforestation I mean, it's an ecological disaster out here" another concerned resident explained.

Both neighbors are apart of PLSBend, or Public Land Stewards. The group organizes volunteer efforts to clean encampments, including those off China Hat Road.

Last week, we visited with Kevin Guadagno at his property. He told us he planned on moving soon due to the ongoing issues.

He told us Tuesday, "The thing is, you just don't know what it's going to take to get some change out here. I mean, if it doesn't take visitors visiting Bend getting shot at, and a local gal getting shot, then what does it take and who will be culpable?"

Guadagno, along with the two concerned neighbors, say they've had meetings with Deschutes National Forest officials, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and county commissioners Tony DeBone and Patti Adair about the ongoing issues at China Hat.

"And that's all I think residents would like to see at this point is an effort, any effort made to put a dent in the problem out here," a concerned neighbor said.

Guadagno concluded, "It's just sad. This is all happening in Bend, Oregon, which is crazy."

Deputies were dispatched shortly to St. Charles Bend before 7 a.m. Saturday on a report of a woman with a gunshot wound, Sergeant Jason Wall said.  The 33-year-old woman was treated at the hospital and released.

Deputies contacted those who had brought the woman to the hospital and learned the incident occurred in the area of transient camps off China Hat Road, near milepost 2, Wall said.

The DCSO SWAT Team, detectives and patrol deputies responded to the area, to ensure no one else was injured or in need of medical attention. Wall said investigators located and secured the crime scenes involved.

Investigators learned through speaking with the shooting victim and others that early Saturday morning, three transients – two men, 32 and 35, and a 29-year-old woman – in a pickup truck tried to steal a fifth-wheel RV from the camps. According to those involved, the unoccupied RV’s owner had recently died, Wall said.

As they fled in a pickup truck, towing the stolen RV, they were chased by the woman who later was shot and a male friend when the RV became stuck in between trees.

In their haste to leave, Wall said, the suspects failed to retract the stabilizing jacks or pull in any of the slides that were extended. As a result, the RV became stuck “while attempting to navigate the narrow, winding paths that have now become thoroughfares” in the Deschutes National Forest off China Hat Road, the sergeant said.

The man and woman confronted the three theft suspects by jumping into the bed of the pickup. The woman reportedly broke out the truck’s rear window and began throwing items from the pickup onto the ground.

At that point, Wall said, “numerous shots were fired from a semi-automatic handgun” by one of the people in the pickup, with one of the shots striking the woman in the shoulder area.

The shooting victim’s friend lit the RV on fire while the three suspects tried to detach it from their vehicle, Wall said. The RV became fully engulfed, while the three suspects fled after detaching their pickup and before law enforcement arrived.

Later, DCSO detectives and the SWAT Team were able to find and arrest the two men and a woman without further incident at a home in the 16000 block of Lava Drive.

The three suspects were booked into the county jail in Bend, all three arrested on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, first-degree theft, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of a vehicle.

The 32-year-old man, Edward Alexander Baer, also was arrested on four counts of recklessly endangering another person, pointing a firearm at another and felon in possession of a firearm.

Baer was initially charged by prosecutors and arraigned Monday on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a Class C felony. He is due back in court in a week on an expected grand jury indictment. Court records did not indicate charges had been filed against the other two suspects by Monday afternoon.

The investigation is continuing, Wall said, but “there is no longer any danger to the community.” Anyone with information that could help in the investigation is asked to contact the sheriff’s office Detective Division.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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