A loud music dispute ended with a 47-year-old Oregon man fatally shooting a black teenager in a hotel parking lot days before Thanksgiving, police said.
The shooting took place outside the Stratford Inn in Ashland, about 16 miles north of the California-Oregon border, in the early morning hours of November 23, authorities said.
Aidan Ellison, 19, was staying at the hotel with his friend Sara Jones and cousin when the young man couldn’t sleep that night.
“I gave Aidan my car keys to listen to music,” Jones, 35, told NBC News on Monday.
“I fell asleep again because I had to work in a few hours. At around 4:50 a.m., I received a knock on the door from the police who asked me: ‘Was there a young black man who stayed with me?’ I said, ‘Yes, that would be Aidan.’ They asked me if I knew where he was. I said, “Yeah, I’ll take you to his place, he’s in my car.” They said he was in no trouble. Maybe he was shot and it was a matter of life and death and they needed to find him. “
When she and the police got out, Jones said she saw Ellison’s body near a tree and shrubs as paramedics attended to him. Police said in a statement that although paramedics attempted to rescue the scene, Ellison was “beyond help” and died at the scene.
“From what I was told there had been an argument about the loud music, the receptionist tried to break up the argument, but when he got inside it was when Aidan was shot, ”said Jones, who lives at the hotel and knew Ellison from their job at a local fast food restaurant.
While the deadly conflict may have started to loud music, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said in a statement that this tragedy was “100%” the fault of suspect Robert Paul Keegan .
“The only thing that caused this murder was the actions of the suspect,” O’Meara said. “It doesn’t matter what led to this.”
The chief added: “Yes, there was an argument over the music, no it didn’t happen because of the loud music, it happened because the suspect chose to bring a gun with him. and chose to use it. “
Keegan allegedly pulled a gun from inside his coat “and fired a single shot, hitting the victim in the chest,” according to a police statement.
Jim Tumpane, owner of the Stratford Inn, said he and his staff were “heartbroken, shocked and angered by the senseless murder” of Ellison.
“Our hearts mourn for his family and friends. We appreciate the vigils that have been coordinated,” Tumpane said in a statement. “We also welcome and greatly encourage the display of ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs on our property. We are grateful for the community’s support for all affected, including those close to Aidan, our staff and our residents here at the Stratford Inn. “
Keegan, who lives in nearby Talent, was arrested at the scene and still in Jackson County Jail Monday, charged with second degree murder, first degree manslaughter, reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a firearm.
Keegan had not hired a lawyer on Monday, according to the Jackson County Public Defender’s Office.
Ellison’s friend Sunmoon Oh said the victim has struggled with homelessness but was still generous with what little she had.
“I could tell you all the stereotypical things. He was special, he was nice, he was a great guy, but he was so much more than that, ”Oh told NBC affiliate KOBI. “He had nothing, but even if he had something, he wouldn’t give you any questions.”