Deputy shoots teen who brandished assault rifle
Police: Shot boy was suicidal
From The Oregonian of Jan. 3, 2007
The 14-year-old pointed a semiautomatic rifle at a deputy, who opened fire, injuring him, Washington County officials say
Washington County sheriff’s investigators say a 14-year-old boy who was shot by a deputy had taken his father’s high-velocity semiautomatic rifle out of an unlocked gun safe, loaded it with steel-cased, full metal jacket bullets and sped off in the family car late Monday after everyone else was in bed.
Authorities continued Tuesday to look into details surrounding the shooting of Brandon Scruggs, an eighth-grader at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton. They said Scruggs was suicidal Monday night when he jumped from the car so quickly, holding the loaded rifle, that the deputy had little time to react.
Scruggs was in stable condition Tuesday at Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, said Sgt. Michael O’Connell, a sheriff’s detective who leads the county’s Major Crimes Team.
He declined to say where Scruggs was hit or how many times, citing the investigation’s preliminary status. Because of federal regulations, hospital representatives would not comment.
O’Connell said Scruggs told medical personnel he pointed his rifle at the deputy because “I wanted him to shoot me, I wanted to die.”
O’Connell said Scruggs’ parents — Glenn and Valerie Scruggs — “have no idea why he would do this, they’re perplexed.”
He said they did not know Scruggs was missing Monday night or had taken their stick-shift Volkswagen.
Scruggs’ parents could not be reached for comment Tuesday by The Oregonian.
Sheriff’s Sgt. David Thompson said a deputy pulled over a car without taillights that was speeding west along Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway shortly after 11:30 p.m. Monday near Southeast 75th Avenue, in an unincorporated area near Hillsboro’s southeast corner.
The deputy, whose name was not released, called for backup and told the driver to stay in the car, which had pulled about 30 feet onto 75th Avenue.
Instead, O’Connell said, the driver “came bolting out of that car with a rifle in his hands holding it in a threatening manner.”
The deputy backed a few feet behind his patrol car and fired because he thought his life was in danger, O’Connell said.
“It all happened very quickly,” he said.
The deputy, who was placed on paid administrative leave as is routine in officer-involved shootings, was to be interviewed today. Both the deputy and Scruggs were alone in their vehicles, investigators said.
Scruggs did not fire his rifle, but O’Connell said it was loaded with ammunition that would “easily pierce a police vest.”
Thompson added that such a round fired from a high-velocity SKS “would go through a car.”
O’Connell said Scruggs and his father had gone target shooting with the weapon in the past week.
“He knew it was more than just a pop gun,” O’Connell said.
Scruggs is expected to face charges when he is released from the hospital.
Monday night’s incident was the third in the past five months in which Washington County sheriff’s deputies shot someone.
Lukus Glenn, 18, died Sept. 16 after two deputies shot him eight times when he threatened them, himself and his family with a knife outside his Tigard home. Jordan Case, 20, died Oct. 21 after a sheriff’s deputy shot him when he broke into a neighbor’s Tualatin apartment, then ran to a patrol car and tried to grab a gun.
Shocked neighbors on Southwest Bristlecone Way south of Beaverton and west of Tigard, said Scruggs was quiet, didn’t cause trouble and seemed happy.
They said Scruggs often went hunting and fishing with his father. The boy had a hunting license; anyone younger than 18 has to take a safety class and carry a state Hunter Education certificate when hunting off family private property.
“He was always very nice, always very polite,” said Lori Brush, who lives five houses from the Scruggses.
Conestoga Middle School students who live in Scruggs’ neighborhood said the boy loves to skateboard and hopes to become a professional.
“He’s cool with his friends,” said Stilyan Slavov, a seventh-grader. “He’s nice.”
Scruggs didn’t talk much of guns, his friends said, and didn’t seem depressed.
“I didn’t think Brandon would do anything like this,” said Henry Taylor, a seventh-grader.
Anyone with information about the shooting or Scruggs is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 503-846-2700.
“We are very interested in talking with anyone who might know why he was so troubled,” O’Connell said. “We want to know what he was doing in Reedville and what was so bad about his life that he felt he needed police to shoot him.”
Police ID deputy who fired on boy with gun
From The Oregonian of Friday, Jan. 5, 2007
Officials haven’t said how many times the 14-year-old was hit or where
A patrol deputy with two years’ full-time experience with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was identified Thursday as the officer who shot a 14-year-old boy who came at him with a high-powered semiautomatic rifle.
Deputy Kevin Mitcham, 28, was on routine patrol when he shot Brandon Scruggs shortly after 11:30 p.m. Monday on Southeast 75th Avenue, just north of Tualatin Valley Highway and outside Hillsboro city limits.
Mitcham remains on paid administrative leave.
The night of the shooting, Scruggs was taken by ambulance to Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center. Hospital representatives have refused to say anything about him, citing federal privacy regulations.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael O’Connell said Scruggs told medical personnel shortly after the shooting that he wanted police to kill him.
The detective said Scruggs took his father’s rifle from an unlocked gun safe, loaded it with full metal jacket, armor-piercing bullets, sneaked out of the house after everyone else was in bed and drove off in the family car.
Sgt. David Thompson, sheriff’s office spokesman, said Scruggs came at Mitcham with a Russian-made SKS military-style semiautomatic rifle after the deputy pulled him over for speeding and driving without taillights. Mitcham fired his handgun because he felt his life was in danger, Thompson said.
While the investigation is ongoing, the sheriff’s office is not releasing information on how many times Mitcham fired his gun, how many times Scruggs was hit or where he was injured.
Thompson released Mitcham’s name Thursday after investigators interviewed the deputy and he had been given a few days to deal with the shooting’s fallout. Thompson said it usually takes a couple of weeks for an officer to return to work after a shooting.
Thompson said Mitcham was a Washington County reserve deputy for two years before he was hired for full-time patrol work. He also worked in the sheriff’s civil division while a reserve.
Investigators ask that anyone who saw the incident or knew why Scruggs was troubled to call them at 503-846-2700.
Teen shot by deputy faces charges
From the Oregonian of Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007
The 14-year-old was shot twice after allegedly pointing a gun at the deputy
A 14-year-old Washington County boy shot by a deputy last week is awaiting juvenile charges while recovering from two gunshot wounds.
Detectives from the Washington County Major Crimes Team referred Brandon Scruggs to the county Juvenile Department on Monday in connection with the New Year’s Day shooting. He is facing charges of menacing, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Detectives said Scruggs took a Russian SKS semiautomatic rifle from his father’s unlocked gun safe, loaded it with full-metal-jacket bullets and sneaked out of the family’s house south of Beaverton and west of Tigard when his parents were in bed.
About 11:30 p.m. Jan. 1, Deputy Kevin Mitcham pulled over a Volkswagen that was speeding west on Southeast Tualatin Valley Highway without taillights. After he pulled over on Southeast 75th Avenue, Scruggs left the car with the rifle and refused Mitcham’s commands to drop the weapon.
Sgt. David Thompson said Tuesday that Mitcham fired four times as Scruggs crouched and shouldered the rifle, pointing it toward the deputy.
Scruggs was hit once in the abdomen and once in the arm, Thompson said, but continued to hold the rifle as he lay on the ground. Every time the deputy reached for the gun, Scruggs pulled it back, Thompson said.
“They kept going back and forth” until Scruggs eventually let go, Thompson said.
Scruggs, who was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, remains hospitalized. Because of federal privacy laws, hospital representatives refuse to release any information about the boy or his condition.
Before any shots were fired, Scruggs told Mitcham, “I just want to die, shoot me,” Thompson said. Detectives are still trying to determine why Scruggs, an eighth-grader at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton, may have been suicidal.
Law enforcement loses track of teen suspect
From The Oregonian of Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007
A boy who was shot after pointing a rifle at an officer gets house arrest
A 14-year-old boy who was shot Jan. 1 after pointing a high-powered rifle at a Washington County sheriff’s deputy was at home without permission for nearly a month before his arraignment Tuesday on weapons charges.
Without comment on the family’s actions to conceal their son from authorities, Juvenile Judge Michele Rini placed Brandon Scruggs on two weeks’ house arrest and ordered his parents to supervise him 24 hours a day after that. Also, his parents must remove all guns from the house.
“You have to be watched at all times,” Rini said to Scruggs. “My concern is if you leave the house, then what are you up to?”
Rini also ordered Scruggs to stay away from Conestoga Middle School at least until county juvenile counselors and the prosecutor review his psychological evaluation.
Scott Upham, Scruggs’ private attorney, said the boy hasn’t left his parents’ supervision since being released from a psychiatric ward Jan. 17.
Upham said the boy’s father, Boyce Scruggs, has been taking him to the family’s small Tigard manufacturing business, where he does schoolwork. The Beaverton School District provides a tutor for an hour a day, Upham said.
Valerie Scruggs, his mother, told the judge, “Brandon has been very cooperative since he’s been at home; he’s done everything we’ve asked him to.”
Brandon Scruggs did not comment during Tuesday’s court hearing.
According to Washington County sheriff’s reports, Scruggs removed a high-powered Russian SKS semiautomatic rifle from his father’s unlocked gun safe and loaded it with full-metal jacket bullets. He then drove off in his parents’ car while they slept in their home in the 15000 block of Southwest Bristlecone Way, in an area south of Beaverton and west of Tigard.
Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Mitcham stopped a car speeding on Southeast Tualatin Valley Highway shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 1. As Scruggs exited, he pulled out a rifle, refused orders to put it down and yelled, “I just want to die, shoot me,” Sgt. David Thompson said.
Mitcham fired four times when Scruggs crouched and shouldered the rifle to take aim, Thompson said.
The boy was hit in the abdomen and wrist.
For the past several weeks, authorities thought Scruggs was undergoing psychiatric care at Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center in Portland. Sheriff’s Detective Andy Hays said he called the boy’s parents to make sure he was still in the hospital because federal privacy rules prevented Legacy from releasing information.
Had police known Scruggs was going to be released without informing them, they would have placed a guard at his hospital door, Hays said.
“It would be safer for the community if he were in Donald E. Long juvenile home,” Hays said. “There is no way to be sure he won’t do anything else.”
On Tuesday, Cal Downey, a county juvenile counselor, said a juvenile home detention team will drop by the Scruggses’ house unannounced at least once a day, seven days a week.
Scruggs was arraigned on charges of unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm and unauthorized use of a vehicle. He did not enter a plea but will have another hearing March 14 to determine if home detention is working and if he is going to contest the charges.
Boy accused of aiming weapon can go to school
From The Oregonian of Saturday, April 21, 2007
School officials say they can’t bar the boy because his alleged crimes weren’t school-related
A 14-year-old boy accused of aiming a high-powered Russian rifle at a Washington County sheriff’s deputy may return to school Monday.
Brandon Scruggs, who has recovered from two gunshot wounds he received from the deputy, will be allowed back in his seventh-grade class at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton after public safety, school and juvenile officials work out a transition plan.
Scruggs pleaded not guilty Friday to one count each of unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
Randy Kayfes, public safety director for the Beaverton School District, said the school district cannot legally discipline Scruggs or keep him out of classes because his alleged crimes were not school-related.
However, to keep Scruggs and other students safe and allay parents’ fears, Kayfes said the boy will be closely supervised.
“We are not expecting anything to happen, but of course we are going to be prepared,” Kayfes said Friday.
Scruggs has been under the 24-hour supervision of his parents since he was released from the hospital about two weeks after the Jan. 1 shooting.
During Friday’s hearing, Washington County Juvenile Judge Michele Rini ordered that Scruggs’ parents drop him off and pick him up at school.
“I don’t want any gaps in the supervision,” Rini said.
Cal Downey, a Washington County juvenile counselor, said Scruggs has been obeying home-detention rules while being tutored by the Beaverton School District.
A psychologist also cleared Scruggs for return to school after deciding the boy was not a threat to himself or others at this time, Downey told the judge.
No reason has been given for why Scruggs removed an SKS semiautomatic rifle from his father’s unlocked gun safe in their home south of Beaverton, loaded it with armor-piercing bullets and drove off in the family car after everyone was in bed.
Deputy Kevin Mitcham stopped Scruggs for speeding and not using taillights westbound on Southeast Tualatin Valley Highway about 11:30 p.m. Jan. 1.
Investigators said Scruggs jumped from the car with the rifle, refused orders to put it down, and yelled, “I just want to die, shoot me.” Mitcham fired four times when Scruggs took aim at him, detectives said.
“The highly aggravated nature of the facts in the case still lead me to have concern,” Jeff Lesowski, senior deputy district attorney, said Friday in court.
“This relatively normal, mildly troubled youth put himself in grave harm,” Lesowski said. “He almost lost his life and put the life of a public safety officer in harm as well.”
Scott Upham, Scruggs’ private attorney and a former Washington County district attorney, countered that nothing had been proved in court.
Outside court, Upham disagreed with investigators’ version of events. He said Scruggs was shot six seconds after Mitcham pulled him over, not long enough for everything to unfold the way authorities say.
Lesowski told the judge that he has received more calls from concerned parents and members of the public about Scruggs this week, after a student gunman killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech University.
The callers, Lesowski said, want assurances that Scruggs does not have access to guns and is not a threat.
As part of Scruggs’ release agreement, there cannot be guns or other weapons in his home, he cannot drive a motor vehicle and he must undergo mental health counseling. Juvenile counselors will continue to check on Scruggs, Downey said.
The school also must notify Kayfes and the juvenile department if Scruggs misses class.
“I want to make sure everyone is notified if you are not where you are supposed to be,” the judge told the boy.
Teen shot by deputy sobs in court
Red-faced and shoulders shaking, a 14-year-old boy charged with pointing a rifle at a deputy sobbed in juvenile court Thursday as he listened to himself telling police he wanted to die because of problems at home and school.
Brandon Scruggs gave police a tape-recorded interview from his Portland hospital bed on Jan. 2, shortly after he had surgery for two bullet wounds.
A Washington County sheriff’s deputy shot Scruggs in the wrist and abdomen about 11:30 p.m. Jan. 1, when the youth allegedly aimed a high-powered, semiautomatic rifle at him during a traffic stop.
The boy, who graduated this year from Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton, is charged with unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a vehicle.
Washington County Circuit Judge Jim Fun is expected to return a verdict today after hearing closing arguments from Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lesowski and defense attorney Scott Upham.
Scruggs told police that he took his father’s SKS Russian military carbine from the gun safe in their Beaverton-area home, inserted a 10-bullet clip and grabbed a can of ammunition before he drove off in his mother’s Volkswagen Passat after his parents went to bed Jan. 1.
“Why did you take the gun?” asked sheriff’s Detective Linda Trapp, a member of the county’s Major Crimes Team.
“Well, for protection and to get shot by the cops,” Scruggs said.
When Trapp asked what he would do to get himself shot, Scruggs said he’d point the gun at any officer who stopped him.
However, Scruggs maintained in the same police interview that he did not aim at the deputy who pulled him over just off Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway at Southeast 75th Avenue.
The youth also said he didn’t intend to shoot anyone and was sorry that Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Mitcham had to shoot him. He said he was going to drive to Seaside and come back in a few days after cooling off, but was having trouble with the car’s stick shift.
At one point in the taped interview, Scruggs admitted that he had been thinking all school year about getting police to kill him. He had been suspended from Conestoga for fighting and was in trouble with his parents and teachers.
Upham argued that Scruggs did not fire the rifle and should not be charged with unlawful use of a weapon.
“The American way is fair play and accountability,” the former Washington County district attorney said in his opening statement. “You don’t kill an ant with an elephant. You only hold people accountable for what they did.”
Mitcham, a patrol deputy since January 2005 and a reserve and civil deputy before that, said he stopped Scruggs’ car as it headed westbound toward Hillsboro because it was speeding and its taillights were off. Scruggs pulled into a gravel lot off 75th, and Mitcham estimated their vehicles were about a car-length apart.
As Scruggs climbed out of his car, Mitcham said he saw the driver shoulder a rifle. Over Upham’s objections that it was irrelevant what that move signified to the deputy, Mitcham testified it means a person is getting ready to shoot.
Mitcham said he yelled aquick expletive, along with “No!” and “Stop!” and backed to the rear of his car. “I was in panic mode,” Mitcham said. “I dropped my flashlight and pulled my service weapon.”
Mitcham said he headed behind his patrol car for protection.
“When the barrel was almost right at me, I started shooting,” Mitcham said.
After the deputy’s fourth and final shot, Scruggs dropped his gun and fell to the ground, Mitcham said.
Three other deputies arrived within minutes and used a shield to pin down Scruggs, who kept reaching toward the rifle while lying on the ground.
Upham asked Mitcham if Scruggs said anything to him. At first Mitcham said no, but he later told the judge that as Scruggs dropped his gun and went to the ground, the youth said something along the lines of “OK, I quit. OK, I give up. OK, I’m done.”
Upham was angry that Mitcham didn’t put that in any police reports and tried to have the statement struck from the court record.
“I just remembered,” Mitcham said. “There’s a lot of stuff to comprehend when someone is trying to kill you.”
Judge convicts teenager for pointing gun at officer
From The Oregonian, August 18, 2007
Brandon Scruggs, who has been under house arrest, is placed on a less-restrictive home detention
At the same time that a Washington County judge convicted Brandon Scruggs for pointing an assault rifle at a deputy, he also eased restrictions on the 14-year-old Beaverton-area youth.
Circuit Judge Jim L. Fun said there was enough evidence to place Scruggs under the jurisdiction of juvenile authorities on all charges, which is the same as a guilty verdict in the adult criminal justice system. Scruggs will be sentenced Sept. 26 for unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a vehicle.
Scruggs could be placed on formal probation or sent to a juvenile facility until he is 25.
He has been under house arrest since Jan. 1, when he was shot in the wrist and abdomen after aiming an SKS Russian military carbine loaded with armor-piercing bullets at a Washington County sheriff’s deputy.
Scruggs recovered and finished the eighth grade at Conestoga Middle School, but his parents have had to provide transportation and 24-hour supervision.
Joan McCumby, Washington County juvenile counselor, said Scruggs was doing “extremely well,” so the judge agreed to place him on the less-restrictive home detention.
Scruggs can ride a school bus by himself, but an adult family member has to provide transportation for other activities. He can go out with friends but has to report his whereabouts to juvenile authorities. They also visit him once a day.
“You have the opportunity to show people who you are, as opposed to what you were,” Fun told Scruggs. “You really have the opportunity to shine.”
Scruggs, who did not testify during his 11/2-day trial, said he understood and would continue in family counseling, another requirement. “I’m really happy to be there,” Scruggs told Fun.
Boyce Scruggs, the boy’s father, told Fun that the family was trying to help him “get past the mistake he made” and live a normal life.
Scruggs was depressed by problems at home and school when he secretly left his home on Southwest Bristlecone Way late Jan. 1 in his mother’s car with his father’s gun and extra ammunition. He left a note saying he was going to Seaside to cool off and would be back soon.
But he told police and paramedics he aimed a rifle at a cop because he wanted to die.
“Brandon’s plan was purposeful,” Fun said.
Deputy Kevin Mitcham, 29, stopped Scruggs for speeding, driving erratically and without taillights. When Scruggs saw the flashing red-and-blue lights behind him and pulled into a gravel lot off Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway at 75th Avenue, the boy had time to think and could have aborted his plan, Fun said.
Instead, Scruggs disobeyed repeated orders to stay in the car.
Mitcham, who has been on full-time patrol since 2005, testified he fired four shots from his pistol when he saw Scruggs shoulder a rifle and lift it in his direction.
Defense attorney Scott Upham argued that Scruggs never fired the gun and did not intend to shoot anyone. Jeff Lesowski, senior deputy district attorney, countered that Scruggs used the gun illegally by putting Mitcham in fear for his life.