Formal charges have yet to be filed against a white man accused of shooting and killing a Black man in downtown Bend on Sept 19.
Barry Washington Jr. was unarmed when he died after a single gunshot wound, officials said. He was 22.
Bend police officers were called to the scene just after midnight and arrested Ian MacKenzie Cranston, 27. Cranston was booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree manslaughter and soon posted a $10,000 bond to be released.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said investigators are still determining what charges Cranston will face. Prosecutors intend to seek an indictment by presenting evidence to a grand jury before Oct. 5.
The quick release of the accused shooter and law enforcement’s initial public description of the events leading up to Washington’s killing have outraged some of his family and friends, according to numerous social media posts.
Hummel said the events Saturday started with Washington approaching and complimenting a woman described as Cranston’s girlfriend. A video camera captured an ensuing scuffle involving several people, Hummel said, with shoving and punches thrown outside of the Capitol bar in Bend.
“The punches had stopped and it was just some shouting. And then at that point, Cranston pulled a gun out of his waistband and shot,” according to the district attorney.
Hummel said there was “no justification” for Cranston’s use of the weapon.
“The question I have to decide is whether Cranston’s decision to shoot was motivated in part by [Washington’s] race,” he added. “At the end of the day, it comes down to what was his motivation at the instant that he committed the crime.”
A Facebook profile appearing to belong to Cranston identified him as a machinist in the rifle department at Nosler, an ammunition manufacturing company based in Bend. The profile also listed a manufacturing instructor position with Clackamas Community College. A spokesperson for the college confirmed Cranston was a part-time faculty member from April 2018 until March 2020.
Screenshots of Cranston’s posts were obtained by OPB, but could not be independently verified because the profile was no longer publicly viewable by Tuesday morning, following Cranston’s release from jail. Images from the now-closed social media account show numerous posts from 2011 and 2012 using the n-word. Another post, apparently created when Cranston was about 17, reads: “AR-15, here I come!!”
At the time of the shooting, Cranston held a concealed handgun license, Hummel said.
Washington’s friends and family have taken to social media to question the law enforcement narrative suggesting a chance encounter with Cranston. Public posts by an aunt and a cousin-in-law claim Washington said he had endured racist targeting and harassment in Bend prior to the night he was killed.
Bend city councilors issued a joint statement about the shooting this week, calling Washington’s death “totally preventable.”
“We must dig deep and examine ourselves and the systems and culture that have brought us to the point where a young person is shot and killed in our downtown,” it reads in part.
“Gun violence is a routine part of life in other places. We do not accept it here.”
The statement does not explicitly mention race.
“We call on the community to come together and focus on how we can prevent these tragedies from happening in the city we all love,” the city council wrote. “We call for justice and support for Mr. Washington’s family as they grieve this tragic loss,” it reads.
Washington was from the Bay Area and had recently moved to Bend.
“He wanted to travel and experience life on his own as a Man,” according to a Facebook post from Lawanda Roberson, his mother.
Washington’s body was sent to a crime lab in Clackamas County for an autopsy, before being returned to a Deschutes County funeral home and released to his family Tuesday evening, Hummel said.
The district attorney justified the autopsy, saying it was meant to “avoid any speculative argument made down the road on some technicality regarding the cause of death.” He said it is not standard practice to ask families for permission.
Longtime Bend resident and activist Riccardo Waites said the killing hits home for him.
“Bend is regressing instead of progressing when it comes to race issues,” said Waites, who is Black, and a founder of the nonprofit Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly.
“Right now, I’m in the middle of deciding, do I send my daughters to another state while I continue to fight social justice issues and racial sensitivity issues here? Is my family safe?”
Vigils in honor of Washington’s life are on Wednesday and Thursday evenings starting at 6:30 p.m. at Peace Corner, on Greenwood Ave. and Wall St. A GoFundMe page called “Justice for Barry (B.J.) Washington Jr.” raised more than $5,000 in its first few hours Thursday.