By RYAN PFEILand Chris Conrad
Amale transient armed with two black-powder pistols faces attempted murder charges for allegedly firing several shots at three teenagers Tuesday on the Bear Creek Greenway.
Two of the teens were struck and sustained minor injuries. It is unclear what caused Joseph Edward Matejko, 53, to fire at the teens, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
Police believe Matejko followed the teens for almost a mile while challenging them to a fight.
An 18-year-old man, 17-year-old girl and another female, whose name and age were not given, were walking northbound on the bike path near U.S. Cellular Community Park just after 10 a.m. when they heard noises. When they went to investigate, a man came out of the bushes and confronted them.
“He appeared to have some type of a problem with them, challenged them to a fight,” said Budreau. “We do not believe the teenagers harassed him in any way.”
The teens kept walking, and Matejko followed them until they reached an area near exit 27 off Interstate 5.
Matejko then pulled out two antique replica revolvers and fired four or five shots, the victims said.
A bullet struck the 17-year-old girl in the shoulder, while another hit the 18-year-old man in the hip. The other female was not hit.
A bullet traveled through several layers of the 17-year-old’s clothing and slammed into her shoulder, causing a significant bruise. The 18-year-old man suffered a bruised hip where a black-powder ball struck him, Budreau said.
“The suspect had slept outside, so we believe the wet morning might have dampened the powder in the guns,” Budreau said.
The faulty powder might have lessened the ammunition’s velocity, Budreau said.
Despite two of them being shot, the teens ran to where the Greenway crosses Barnett Road and called 911 from Black Bear Diner. Medford police, Medford Fire-Rescue and Mercy Flights responded to the scene but did not transport anyone to area hospitals for treatment.
“Relatively minor injuries,” Budreau said. “They’re going to be OK.”
Meanwhile, Matejko had fled the scene and attempted to hide from police by shaving off his beard and cutting his hair in the two hours he was on the run.
Officers finally found him standing near the creek. He had one of the loaded revolvers in his hand when the officers confronted him.
Matejko dropped the revolver when ordered and was arrested without incident, Budreau said.
After his arrest, Matejko invoked his right to remain silent and provided few details about what had set him off that morning.
“We’ll probably never know why he did this,” Budreau said. “He is not providing any details.”
Matejko was charged with three counts of attempted murder and two counts of second-degree assault. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $5 million bail.
Matejko recently arrived in the area and has been living on the streets. Police do not know where he obtained the guns.
“That is something we are going to be looking into,” Budreau said. “This is obviously a rather bizarre case.”
Despite the shooting, the Greenway remains a relatively safe place, Budreau said.
“Our bike path does not see these types of crimes that often,” Budreau said. “Most of the things we deal with are minor offenses such as trespassing and prohibited camping.”
Last year, Medford police responded to 155 incidents on the Greenway, most of which were misdemeanors and municipal offenses.
“It’s a good idea to be aware of your surroundings on the Greenway and to always report suspicious activity,” Budreau said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.