A talented man has been charged with murder after police said he shot dead a black teenager in the parking lot of an Ashland hotel on Monday. The shooting drew condemnation from the black community in southern Oregon, which raised concerns about the region’s culture and white supremacist history.
The teenager, whose name has not been publicly confirmed by police, has been widely identified on social media and in reports as 19-year-old Aidan Ellison.
Robert Keegan, 47, has been charged with his murder. Keegan faces four counts, including second degree murder, first degree manslaughter, reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a weapon.
Little information was immediately available about Ellison himself. Facebook posts from some Ashland Black Lives Matter groups indicated that there would be a vigil for the teenager on Thursday, at the site where he was killed.
Precious Edmonds, spokesperson for the Southern Oregon Black Leaders, Activists and Community Coalition (SOBLACC), said the organization has not been in contact with Ellison’s family, but the organization has scheduled a meeting to on Dec. 7, inviting black people living in southern Oregon to come together and discuss their community’s priorities.
She said the community at large seems to mourn Ellison’s death, but part of the problem is that people shouldn’t have to know him personally to respect who he was.
The probable cause affidavit in the case is sealed. A press release from the Ashland Police Department says Ellison and Keegan were staying at the Stratford Inn in Ashland and did not know each other. Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said in a statement on Facebook that the two had an argument over Ellison playing loud music in the parking lot. Keegan then took a gun out of his coat and fired a single shot in Ellison’s chest, according to police reports. Ellison died at the scene.
According to KTVL, a news station based in Medford, the homicide is the first in Ashland this year.
Edmonds said the murder itself, as well as the way it was presented by police and local media, is an example of the region’s white supremacist culture.
“The incident where Aidan was shot after an argument while listening to his music was really about his not submitting to this man’s perceived authority,” she said.
She added that the organization was frustrated by many, including police and local news outlets, for their attempts to pardon Keegan while defaming Ellison.
“He was listening to his music too loudly, it’s irrelevant,” Edmonds said. “It doesn’t change how good the man who shot him was. All of these things are irrelevant to what happened. But this is the narrative, this is the framework of white supremacy.
Some articles noted that Keegan was a survivor of the Almeda fire, and a GoFundMe page raising money for their losses notes that Keegan and her young son were living in the hotel as they tried to recover from the fire that destroyed thousands of structures in the Ashland. Region.
O’Meara posted a statement on Facebook on Thursday, responding to concerns he said some members of the community had about his comments on the murder.
“It was reported in some local media sources that I said this murder was ‘because of’ something,” O’Meara said. “The only thing that caused this murder were the actions of the suspect, 100%. It doesn’t matter what led to it.
Edmonds said a local organization held a forum in August where police officers from Rogue Valley discussed racism.
“At this point, Chief Tighe, along with others in the valley, said they did not see racism in their departments,” she said. In October, Edmonds said his organization held a police forum to further discuss the issue and allow officers to hear from black residents.
“We challenge the idea that racism could be anywhere except in their police department,” she said. “This is not just about a racist person, but about a structure, a policy and things that allow the marginalization and unfair criminalization of black people.”
Edmonds said his organization is also disputing comments from those who say Keegan should have called the police instead of acting on his own.
“We just had conversations about how dangerous this is – calling the police on a black person for basic things like playing music too loud,” Edmonds said. “It’s not about the comfort of whites. It is not our goal and it is not our responsibility.
Keegan is due to be brought to justice on Friday.
– Jayati Ramakrishnan; 503-221-4320; [email protected]; @JRamakrishnanOR