It’s been almost a month since Lane Community College student Alex Oyombe Gradin, 21, was shot and killed in the University of Oregon-owned lot behind Taylor’s Bar and Grill in the early hours of May 4. No arrests have been made in connection with Gradin’s murder, and very little information has been released since.
Here’s what we know so far:
Both University of Oregon Police and Eugene Police responded to calls about shots fired at 1:45 a.m. on May 4. One victim, later identified as Gradin, was found on the ground with a gunshot wound and received medical assistance, but he died at the scene.
EPD asked for taxi and rideshare drivers who may have been in the area to share any dashcam footage they may have taken.
“We do not have anything to release publicly, and are continuing to actively investigate it,” said Eugene Police spokesperson Melinda McLaughlin in an email.
McLaughlin said that while she wishes they could offer more information, EPD cannot release anything at this point. “To provide information now would jeopardize the investigation,” she said.
She said she understood why it’s difficult to be left in the dark. “This has had a big effect on the involved neighborhood and people who live in or visit the area. It is natural to be concerned after an incident like this, and want to know more about what happened,” she said. “We certainly will provide more information when we can.”
There is no typical timeline for the completion of a homicide investigation in Eugene. “Each is unique,” McLaughlin said. “There can be a very quick arrest, but also there are some that take a lot longer, and others for which all leads have been exhausted.”
In 2018, there were three homicides in Eugene, and all three were cleared, which means the case was closed because an arrest was made or there was some sort of exception. For example, if the prosecutor declines the case or the suspect dies, it will be cleared. So far this year, there have also been three homicides. One of them, this case, is still open, while another — a murder-suicide — was cleared, and the third was considered not criminal, according to McLaughlin.
As long as there are leads to investigate, EPD will continue to work the case for weeks, months, or even years, McLaughlin said. EPD also has a Cold Case Squad, which will follow up on cases after their leads have been exhausted.
But Eugene’s homicide rate is generally low. For the last two years, the homicide rate in Eugene was 1.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Over the last five years, the homicide rate in Eugene has been lower than the U.S.’s overall rate, which hovers around 6 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. In recent years, the Eugene homicide rate has also been lower than the Oregon rate, which was 2.4 homicides per 100,000 people in 2018 and 3.1 in 2017.
Homicide rates are low in Eugene, but they’re even more uncommon on UO property. This is the first murder on UO property in recent history. The last one was in November 1984, when a student dubbed the “Autzen sniper” opened fire, killing former UO track athlete and Olympic sprinter Chris Braithwaite, 34, and wounding then-UO wrestler Rick O’Shea.
The Emerald reported that the shots were fired from university property. Braithwaite was killed while jogging nearby on Pre’s Trail. The sniper, a 19-year-old UO student, committed suicide after EPD responded to the scene.
While UOPD is the responding police agency for crimes on campus, EPD is investigating the shooting behind Taylor’s. UOPD spokesperson Kelly McIver said EPD would typically be the investigating agency for homicides on campus because EPD has specialized units devoted to violent crimes and forensics, which UOPD doesn’t have due to its size and nature.
“UOPD may assist EPD in any criminal cases by, at EPD’s request, providing security video, canvassing witnesses, interviewing subjects, or other police work,” McIver said.
The Emerald will continue to report on this story as more information becomes available.