A Douglas County grand jury announced Friday that the officers involved in the fatal shooting of a Myrtle Creek man earlier this month were justified in their use of deadly force.
The grand jury met Thursday to hear evidence about the Oct. 12 incident, when Myrtle Creek police officers shot John Bocock, 58. Officers rendered aid to Bocock until medics arrived on scene, but he was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital.
Authorities said the incident began after Bocock shot Vincent Lytsell, 51, also of Myrtle Creek, outside the real estate office where Lytsell works. Witnesses told police Bocock blamed Lytsell for his marital problems, reported the Roseburg News-Review.
Witnesses told the News-Review Bocock fired at Lytsell, hitting him once, and continued to fire as he chased Lytsell around the parking lot, where officers had arrived.
Police yelled “20 to 25 times” for Bocock to drop the gun before he was shot, witness Chris Yarrow told the newspaper.
Lytsell was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The officers, whose names have not been released, were placed on paid administrative leave pending the findings of the grand jury, standard practice for officer-involved incidents.
Douglas County District Attorney Rick Wesenberg, Sheriff John Hanlin and Lt. Doug Ladd of the Oregon State Police will hold a news conference Monday to discuss the investigation.
READ – Officer-involved shooting in Myrtle Creek ends with death of gunman, October 13, 2011
READ – Friend says man killed by police acted irrationally after his divorce, AP.com, October 16, 2011
Estranged wife in Myrtle Creek shooting had reportedly been threatened
From the Roseburg News Review, October 14, 2011
The man killed by Myrtle Creek police after he shot and wounded a man he blamed for the breakup of his marriage had been acting increasingly irrational since he and his estranged wife signed divorce papers Sunday, according to a friend of the couple.
John Bocock, 58, died Wednesday after officers shot him in the 100 block of Oak Street in front of an art gallery where his wife was working. Deputies say Bocock refused to drop a gun he had just used to shoot Vince Lytsell, 51, in the abdomen at Village Realty, a block from the gallery.
The incident was the third fatal shooting involving Myrtle Creek residents in the past seven weeks.
“It casts a negative light on our small town. It’s sad. It’s a heartbreak,” Mayor Dan Jocoy said today.
Ye Old Art Shoppe owner Linda Johnson said Bocock’s wife, Cheri, works part time for the gallery. Cheri Bocock was there when her estranged husband confronted police in front of the gallery’s glass windows. Witnesses said Bocock begged officers to shoot him.
Johnson said the Bococks had been married for 27 years and have two grown sons in Eugene.
Lytsell was a friend of the Bococks and helped them purchase their home about a year and a half ago, Johnson said.
Another Village Realty broker, Scott Barraza, said John Bocock blamed Lytsell for his marital problems and went into Lytsell’s office and chased him into the parking lot.
Johnson said Lytsell formerly worked as a counselor and was trying to help both John and Cheri Bocock through the divorce.
Johnson said John Bocock misinterpreted the friendship between Lytsell and his estranged wife and began to blame him for the split.
Lystell is no longer listed as a patient at Mercy Medical Center. Douglas County sheriff’s office spokesman Dwes Hutson said the man’s wounds were not life-threatening. Efforts to reach Lystell were unsuccessful.
Johnson said John Bocock started threatening to kill his estranged wife after they signed divorce papers.
“It was like the minute the paper was signed, he just went nuts,” Johnson said. “He was acting very bizarre and doing very odd things.”
Johnson declined to elaborate on John Bocock’s actions.
Cheri Bocock asked her estranged husband not to contact her anymore and informed police about the marital dispute. Johnson said she suggested her friend get a restraining order, but Cheri Bocock didn’t think it was necessary.
Johnson said that a little before 11 a.m. Monday, a man in the art business was on the phone with a Dairy Queen employee who began frantically reporting that a man was shooting in the Village Realty parking lot.
Johnson said she instantly suspected it was John Bocock and ran to lock the front door.
She said the gallery was hosting an art class in an upstairs loft. Johnson said she told everyone to take cover. Within a few moments, Johnson said she saw John Bocock standing just outside the front door and heard police officers yelling for him to drop the gun.
Johnson told Cheri Bocock not to look outside. Soon, she relayed the message that John Bocock had been shot.
“She was scared to death. I am sure she was in shock,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Cheri Bocock left the scene shortly after her estranged husband was loaded into an ambulance. John Bocock was pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center.
Johnson said she spoke today to Cheri Bocock, who relayed that the family was OK but still in shock.
Johnson said that she knew John Bocock to be a nice, kind of quiet man who was “always very cordial.”
She said whenever she went to the Bocock home, John Bocock greeted her with a hug and talked for awhile. She said the John Bocock she considered a friend was nothing like the man she saw in a standoff with police outside her business.
“I have been friends with him for a couple years, and I have never seen anything like it,” Johnson said. “Either his brain was buzzing too fast or — something.”
The Douglas County Major Crimes Team is continuing its investigation into the shootings. According to standard practice, the officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Hutson said the case is expected to go before a grand jury for jurors to rule whether the use of deadly force by officers was justified.
Jocoy, the minister of the Tri City Church of Christ, on Thursday counseled two people who work at Village Realty and who were present during Wednesday’s shooting.
“I tried to be a good listener and hear and feel what they went through the day before,” Jocoy said.
Jocoy said he was attending a luncheon at Coffenberry Middle School when the shootings occurred. Within 10 minutes, students told him they heard about the shooting from Facebook postings.
A few minutes later, a school official approached and asked if he knew whether the people involved might have children attending the school.
“It shows how quickly information passes in a small town,” Jocoy said.
A Myrtle Creek man, Brian Douglas Woodruff, 38, was shot and killed Aug. 23 at the Myrtle Terrace apartments. Robert Brandon Young, 28, of Myrtle Creek told police he shot Woodruff after Woodruff forced his way into the apartment armed with a knife. No arrests have been made.
Charles Henry Teal, 26, has been arraigned for murder in the slaying of Jeffrey Scott Bension, 39. Bension’s body was found Oct. 3 by a hunter 10 miles northeast of Myrtle Creek. Bension had recently moved in with Teal and others. Police say Teal told investigators Bension begged to be shot end his suffering from cancer. Police have not confirmed whether Bension had cancer.
Jocoy said all three shootings appear to involve breakdowns in relationships.
“People are out of their gourd with anger and rage,” he said.
City Administrator Aaron Cubic said the shootings are being viewed by residents as random events that just happened to occur in a short period of time.“People understand they’re not in any danger,” Cubic said. “This is just something the community has to get through.
“Our concerns go out to the families affected by this. We’re focusing our attention on them and the officers involved,” he said.
Former Mayor Jerry Pothier, who left office early this year after serving for 12 years, said his family members have been taking extra precautions, locking doors and being aware of their surroundings since the shootings.
“We’re being more secure,” said Pothier, an emergency medical technician with the Myrtle Creek Fire Department who assisted in treating the injured in Wednesday’s shooting.
He said he was baffled in trying to explain why so many shootings had occurred in what is typically a peaceful town.
“It’s kind of strange. I don’t know what is going on,” he said.