He was shot dead in a town OPB describes as “where more than 90% of residents are white, and gun violence in the downtown area is rare.”
An Oregon man was arrested Thursday after a grand jury indicted him on six charges in the shooting death of 22-year-old Barry Washington, Jr. outside a nightclub.
Ian MacKenzie Cranston, 27, has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a deadly weapon.
The fatal shooting occurred on Sept. 19 in the downtown area of Bend, a town Oregon Public Broadcasting describes as “where more than 90% of residents are white, and gun violence in the downtown area is rare.”
According to a local report, Washington approached and complimented Cranston’s girlfriend. The encounter turned into a scuffle involving several people, said Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel. Before the fatal shots were fired, there was shoving and punches thrown.
Prosecutors said that after the fighting stopped, there was only shouting, at which time Cranston pulled a gun from his waistband and shot Washington. Hummel made clear that there was “no justification” for his use of the weapon.
“The question I have to decide is whether Cranston’s decision to shoot was motivated in part by [Washington’s] race,” he said. “At the end of the day, it comes down to what was his motivation at the instant that he committed the crime.”
Cranston has not been charged with hate crimes.
The Bend community was first outraged when Cranston was initially charged with a single charge of second-degree manslaughter. Less than 24 hours later, he was released after posting bail. However, the new charges have put Cranston back behind bars, this time on a no-bail warrant at Deschutes County Jail.
“Our country has a disgraceful history of denigrating, prosecuting and lynching Black men for talking to white women. Over the last week, literally hundreds of people called and emailed me to remind me of this history,” Hummel said at a press conference, according to OPB. “There’s a reckoning with race that needs to happen in Central Oregon, and it needs to happen now.”
Bend is more than 90% white, and Washington was Black. Since his death, his family, friends and supporters have attended several vigils to bring attention to his case.
Washington’s friend and roommate, Max Petersen, encouraged him to move to Bend from the Bay Area, “He was a nerd, there’s no other way to put it,” he said of his late friend. “He liked to play Pokémon. He played Nintendo every day.”
“I told him it would be a safe environment up here,” asserted Peterson. “But, that was obviously a lie.”
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