Deschutes Co. DA: No mask-related charges following ‘We Will Not Comply’ rally

Deschutes County DA John Hummel announced Tuesday he won’t file any charges against a group of non-mask-wearers involved in a “We Will Not Comply” rally last month.

More than 100 people gathered in downtown Bend Nov. 21 to protest the governor’s mask mandate and two-week freeze that closed some Oregon businesses and reduced capacity at others while asking families to limit gathering sizes for Thanksgiving in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Hummel said four people called the police to report the group, saying they weren’t wearing masks, apparently in violation of the governor’s order.

Tommy Szymanski, the event organizer, told police he thought the mask mandate was unconstitutional and said it was an individual choice whether to wear the mask, Hummel said.

Police didn’t issue any citations at the event but did refer the matter to Hummel’s office.

Hummel said the event organizer was incorrect in saying the mask mandate was unconstitutional.

But enforcing the mandate when a group “gathers to exercise a constitutional right (in this case, to assemble to redress their government), it would create a conflict between the lawful mask law and the constitutional right that is being exercised.”

“As long as people who gather to exercise a constitutional right are not violent or destructive when doing so, I generally defer to protecting their constitutional rights over the enforcement of any statutory violations they may commit while exercising their rights,” he said in a statement. “My philosophy is content-neutral, meaning, it applies to people who gather for “liberal” causes and to people who gather for “conservative” causes.”

Hummel’s statement concludes by encouraging everyone to wear masks and keep your distance from others “so we can save lives, save businesses and save parent’s sanity by getting kids back to school.”

Injured backcountry skier rescued near Todd Lake

Deschutes County Search and Rescue crews saved an injured backcountry skier Thursday near Todd Lake.

Lt. Bryan Husband said crews were deployed around 9 a.m. after learning a skier had fallen in some steep terrain about one-third of a mile NW of the Todd Lake trailhead.

The victim, who was skiing with a partner, had suffered non-life-threatening injuries that prevented him from being able to return to the Dutchman Flat parking lot.

One DCSO SAR Deputy responded to the Dutchman Flat parking lot, while another DCSO SAR Deputy coordinated a volunteer response.

Husband said six volunteers responded to the DCSO SAR base in Bend and gathered snowmobiles and medical supplies to complete the mission.

They then drove to the Dutchman Flat parking lot, where they continued on snowmobiles.

Two additional DCSO SAR Volunteers had been recreating near Moon Mountain and responded directly to the injured skier’s location to help, Husband said.

First arriving DCSO SAR Volunteers made contact with the victim, 20-year-old Tindel Wells of Bend around 10:45 a.m.

They were joined by Mt. Bachelor ski patrol staff and helped Wells down to the Todd Lake trailhead, where they met with the remaining DCSO SAR Volunteers.

Wells was further stabilized and taken via snowmobile and snowbulance to the Dutchman Flat parking lot, where he was then met by Bend Fire Department personnel around 11:47 a.m..

Wells was then taken to St. Charles in Bend for further treatment, Husband said.


▶️ FBI investigating death threat against Deschutes Co. DA


The Deschutes County District Attorney says the FBI is investigating a death threat made against him and his staff.

The threat appeared as a comment on the DA’s Facebook page.

Comments to “Keep your doors locked” and “You will pay for this with your lives” were posted last week from the account of Jonathan Bailey.

District Attorney John Hummel says he immediately reported it to federal investigators.

“So, I took that to be a threat to me and everyone in my office, so you bet I take it seriously,” he said.

At about the same time, messages appearing to be from Bailey arrived in the county’s Facebook Messenger inbox … one simply saying “Bomb Threats.”

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office investigated and determined it was not a credible threat.

Bailey has had several run-ins with law enforcement over the last five years; his most recent arrest was last July.

“A witness saw Mr. Bailey choking his dog – strangling his dog in his car,” says Hummel, “and then, when the police came, he was also drunk so, it was a drunk driving and animal abuse prosecution.”

He pleaded “no contest” in December and was sentenced to probation, which he allegedly violated in January.

There is now an outstanding warrant for his arrest, his whereabouts are unknown.

“It’s a jolt, right? It’s jarring when you get a threat,” Hummel said, adding he believes he’s received around five death threats in the five years he’s been in office. “And, I’m not running in fear, but I’m also not reckless. I’m aware of my surroundings, I make sure I take basic safety measures. The vast majority – l mean, close to 100% of the people don’t wish to do me harm. But, you only need one person, right?”

The FBI would not comment on the investigation, but Hummel said it doesn’t change the work his office is doing.

“If someone’s making a threat like this, all they’re going to get is a criminal charge; they’re not going to achieve some aim of having me or my deputies stand down from our work or having the criminal justice system stop,” he said.

Hummel encourages anyone who sees a threat on social media – toward anyone – to report it to police, “and let the law enforcement professionals decide whether it’s a credible threat.”

Deschutes County Officially Begins Moratorium on Pot Businesses

Deschutes County Commissioners Monday unanimously agreed to repeal previous marijuana regulations, opting out of allowing new land use applications for future pot operations in unincorporated parts of the county.

They agreed to an emergency clause, which means it takes effect immediately.

The moratorium remains in effect until the issue is sent back to voters in 2020.

Their decision could result in a loss of revenue for Deschutes County, if the state chooses to withhold the tax dollars collected from the businesses that remain.

Federal Charges Filed Against Two Suspects in Bomb Threat Hoax

U.S. Attorney Billy Williams has filed federal charges against two of the three men arrested for making a hoax bomb threat at the Deschutes County Courthouse late last month.

Deschutes County DA John Hummel dismissed state charges against 23-year-old Jonathan Allen and 31-year-old Kellie Cameron. The two are accused of federal conspiracy to make a threat regarding explosive materials, false information and hoaxes. They were arrested during a traffic stop on August 3rd.

A third suspect, 40-year-old William Swanson, was arrested Thursday afternoon and still faces state charges of possessing a hoax device, disorderly conduct and criminal conspiracy.

“I appreciate the strong working relationship local law enforcement has always had with the FBI and United States Attorney Williams,” Hummel said in a statement.  “We always work collaborative on cases with a Federal nexus and decide after a thorough investigation which jurisdiction should ultimately handle the matter. We all agreed that the alleged actions of these suspects warranted resolution in Federal court and this is why I dismissed the local charges.”

This case is being investigated by the FBI and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and is being prosecuted by Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

The hoax on July 29th caused a multi-agency response that closed several downtown Bend streets, forced the cancelation of all courthouse activities and prompted a call to the Oregon State Police Explosives Unit from Salem.

Someone called 9-1-1 around 7 a.m. to report two bombs – one at the courthouse steps and the other in a separate, undisclosed location nearby. The courthouse was evacuated and streets in the area blocked off shortly after that, according to Deschutes County Sheriff’s Sgt. William Bailey.

The Oregon State Police Explosives Unit arrived from Eugene at about 11 a.m. While the team assessed the device, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office tweeted out they were seeking a person of interest and released a short security video of what appears to be a man wearing a cowboy hat, grey hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses and jeans carrying a box under one arm.

Just after 1 p.m. the OSP Explosives Unit used a water cannon to neutralize the device. Further investigation revealed it did not contain any explosive materials.

Suspect Identified in Fatal Shooting

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Oregon have identified the suspect in yesterday’s fatal shooting as 49-year-old Joanna L. Kasner.
Kasner is currently in custody and receiving treatment at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend. She is being held on one count of murder in the alleged shooting that left 58-year-old Valerie Peterson dead.
The Sheriff’s Office has not released any information on why the shooting occurred or if the two women knew each other.
Central Oregon Daily will be posting more updates as information becomes available, but for now Anyssa Bohanan has the latest.

Fatal Shooting North of Bend

An investigation into a fatal shooting north of Bend on Wednesday afternoon is ongoing.

Just after 11 a.m. Deschutes County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported shooting near the intersection of McGrath Road and Casa Court. Nearby residents were warned to stay inside their homes and lock their doors as Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, K9 units, drone operator and officers from Oregon State Police, Bend Police and Redmond Police searched the scene.

Officers found a woman lying in the street and life saving efforts were attempted but 58-year-old Valerie A. Peterson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Around 12:40 the Sheriff’s Office reported that they had a suspect in custody and that there was no longer a threat to the community.

As of 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a press release from the Sheriff’s Office specified that the person of interest in the shooting was still in custody, but had been taken to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.

The Sheriff’s Office has not released any information on what occurred before the shooting, but said that the investigation was ongoing.

Central Oregon Daily will have more information as it becomes available.

Mentorship Program Helps Children with Incarcerated Parents

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has created a program that pairs children with incarcerated parents with adult mentors to establish positive connections and combat some of the anxiety that comes with having a parent in jail. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on the program and how you can sign up to help. 

Commissioners Deliberate on Plan for Westside Transect Zone

Commissioners tentatively approved plans for the Westside Transect Zone, but deliberations will continue before the plan is finalized.

The Deschutes County Commissioners met earlier this week to hear the final plan for the proposed low density housing area on Bend’s west side. However, concerns over how the plan would account for local wildlife and allow continued public access to Shevlin Park and the forrest lands made commissioners stop short of a final approval.

County staff is expected to put forth a final draft of the plan, with the changes requested by the commissioners, later this week.