The mayor of a small town in Oregon has been arrested and charged in connection with a severe highway road rage incident that occurred on after dark on Halloween evening and could have proven fatal.
Dowen Jones, 47, stands accused of one count of attempted murder and four counts of assault in the first degree, according to jail records reviewed by Law&Crime. In a press release from the sheriff’s office, the assault charges are listed as attempted.
According to the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, a family of four was traveling southbound on the highway when they found themselves right behind an SUV that was driving “erratically.”
Eventually, the SUV came to a halt along the 6000 block of U.S. Route 281, the sheriff’s office said, but did so with a certain amount of haste, “causing the driver of the family vehicle some concern.”
Curiosity apparently more than piqued, the driver of the family’s car slowed down in order to obtain a description of the person driving the SUV, authorities say, “for the purpose of reporting the erratic driving.”
And that’s when the shooting started.
“As the family passed the suspect vehicle, a male subject stepped out of the passenger side and fired multiple rounds from a handgun at the passing family,” according to the HRCSO. “The gunfire caused damage to the family’s vehicle, that in addition to two adults, was occupied by two minor children, ages five and eight.”
The sheriff’s office noted that no one was injured during the shooting – which occurred roughly 80 miles due west of Portland.
An investigation commenced – buoyed by a task force made up of several local law enforcement agencies including the Sherman County Sheriff’s Office and The Dalles Police Department.
The elected mayor of Rufus, Oregon was arrested the very next day.
Investigators identified the vehicle as well as the alleged shooter, the HRCSO said. Sherman County sheriff’s deputies were able to contact the defendant directly in the tiny city where he served.
“This was highly unusual for Hood River County,” a spokesperson with the sheriff’s office told Portland-based NBC affiliate KGW-TV. “I wouldn’t say we’re a sleepy town, but we’re a quiet town. And this is not something that we run into very often at all.”
As of the last Census, the population of Rufus stood at 268 residents.
According to OregonLive.com, Jones was elected mayor in 2018 with 76 votes.
In a phone call, a spokesperson for the HRCSO said there was no footage of the incident and that road rage is still the presumed motive.
“That’s all the investigation has uncovered,” HRCSO Public Information Officer Joel Ives told Law&Crime. “There are no additional connections that have been identified between those individuals.”
Jones was arraigned this morning.
The Hood River County District Attorney’s Office declined to provide requested documentation, citing the “pending” nature of the case.
In an email, DA Carrie Rasmussen said a probable cause statement was provided at the defendant’s arraignment.
The investigation is said to be ongoing.
The defendant is currently being detained in the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections on $500,000 bond.
“We are making no comment at this time,” a spokesperson for the City of Rufus told Law&Crime.
[Image via Hood River County Sheriff’s Office]
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