▶️ As Bend murder retrial nears, friends and family of accused killer hope for redemption


Armed with signs and fliers, friends and family of Luke Wirkkala hope to spread the word about what they consider a wrongful conviction.

“The prosecution did something that wasn’t right,” Childhood friend Brian Wisdom said.

In 2018, the conviction was overturned. The appeals court found officers continued to question Wirkkala despite his request for a lawyer, and then pursued evidence uncovered during that interview.

According to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, the Oregon Department of Justice is now prosecuting the case

No one from that agency was available for comment.

“We feel that Luke defended himself, his girlfriend, and two young boys,” Wirkalla’s sister Evelyn Luethe said.

Wirkkala admits he shot his friend David Ryder in the neck with a 12-gauge shotgun after a Super Bowl party in 2013.

His sister Evelyn says he shot Ryder after Wirkkala awoke to find he was being sexually assaulted and strangled.

They said it was consensual,” said Luethe. “But there was no evidence that it was consensual and the strangulation, that was not consensual.”

A hearing is scheduled for next week. His new trial is scheduled for later this year.

“Luke is very remorseful and so is our family, you know, someone lost a loved one,” Luethe said.

However, Luethe hopes Luke’s trial will have the outcome they’ve been waiting for.

“The outcome would be ‘Not Guilty’, or an acquittal,” she said.

Wirkkala’s trial is set for this October.

▶️ Bend Police Chief applauds peaceful protest; defends deferring situation to feds


It’s only Michael Krantz’s fourth day on the job and already Bend’s newest police chief has come face to face with protestors…some who have challenged his record confronting protests in Portland.

But Krantz says Bend PD’s presence at Wednesday’s protest was for safety reasons and they had no intention of assisting federal authorities.

“I asked a community member if I could use the bullhorn so I could address the crowd and address the community directly and tell them thank you for coming out and being peaceful,” Krantz said.

That peace lasted, Krantz said, throughout the evening, which is part of the reason no arrests were made.

“A peaceful crowd who was expressing their first amendment rights and doing it the way we expected to do it in Bend, is not really the place for an arrest,” Krantz said.

Despite claims local law enforcement was there ensure people remained safe, when federal agents arrived later in the evening, Bend Police left the immediate area.

That’s when protestors say they were shoved and pepper-sprayed by federal authorities.

“We pulled away for two reasons,” said Krantz. “We just went around the corner to give the federal agents room and to not be interfered with and not anyone else and to ensure that there was no confusion that we were a part of any actions they were taking. And there is also concern that if we step in and interfere that we would then be potentially liable for violating federal law for interfering with a federal investigation.”

Krantz added that he’s proud of the community as a whole for supporting each other and remaining non-violent.

“That’s really the message is that this was an example of how to provide the Bend community of what these events can look like,” Krantz said.

New Bend PD Chief issues statement addressing response to ICE protest

Crews Ready and Waiting for Fire Season

While wildfires in Alaska have now burned more than two million acres, and a fire in Arizona is threatening homes, Oregon has only seen three wild land fires so far this year, the latest being the Mile 97 Fire currently burning southeast of Canyonville.

While things are quiet now, wild land firefighters with the Redmond based Pat-Rick Environmental are staying busy. Should a fire break out anytime soon those same firefighters will need to be ready at a moments notice.

Even with fires being few and far between in Oregon, local forest officials aren’t taking any chances and have implemented restrictions in several national forests across the state, including the Deschutes.

But with temperatures expected to rise in the coming days, officials are saying we’re not out of the woods just yet. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more.

Local Business Looks to Raise Awareness of Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic takes the lives of more than 100 people a day across the United States, and while drug overdose deaths have decreased overall, it remains a public health emergency.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan sat down with a local business that’s hoping this weekend’s charity event will help bring awareness to the crisis.

How Local Law Enforcement is Responding to ICE Raids

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been conducting sweeps across large US cities in an effort to find and arrest undocumented immigrants. While several arrests have been made here in Oregon our Sanctuary State status means they must make these arrests without any help from local law enforcement.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan reports. 

Bend Police Academy Trains the Next Generation of Law Enforcement

This week was the Bend Police Department’s fifth annual Junior Police Academy where local kids get to learn more about local law enforcement works from real local officers. The new trainees learned how to collect fingerprints, traffic safety and even tested out their fitness on an obstacle course.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan stopped by the camp today to learn more.

Man Walking on Tracks Struck by Train

Bend Police and Fire were dispatched to the tracks just east of the BNSF train depot Sunday after reports that a Bend resident had been struck by a passing train

Kyle Houser, 23, had been walking along the tracks and listening to music that was too loud for him to hear the trains approach. The conductor continuously blew the horn to warn Houser and even hit the brakes but the train continued to roll for roughly a mile. Houser was struck on the shoulder and thrown from the tracks.

The train eventually came to a stop and traffic in the area was shut down for two hours while law enforcement investigated. Though Houser miraculously survived the incident, police warn that it’s not only dangerous to walk along the tracks, it’s also *illegal*.

Houser was transported to St. Charles hospital in bend with non-life threatening injuries and was cited with criminal trespass charges.