A Central Oregon man is being charged with murder over the death of 22-year-old Barry Washington Jr, who was shot outside a nightclub in Bend on Sept. 19.
Police arrested Ian MacKenzie Cranston at his home in Redmond on Thursday evening, soon after a Deschutes County grand jury returned an indictment on six charges: second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a deadly weapon.
Washington, a Black man, was unarmed at the time of his death. Cranston, the accused shooter, is white. The shooting sparked outrage among racial justice advocates in Bend, a city where more than 90% of residents are white and gun violence in the downtown area is rare.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel told OPB the evidence suggests the men did not know each other until the night of the shooting, when Washington approached Cranston’s girlfriend, Allison Butler.
At a press conference following Cranston’s arrest, Hummel described the case in starkly racial terms.
“Our country has a disgraceful history of denigrating, prosecuting and lynching Black men for talking to white women. Over the last week, literally hundreds of people called and emailed me to remind me of this history,” Hummel said. “There’s a reckoning with race that needs to happen in Central Oregon, and it needs to happen now.”
Prosecutors did not seek a bias crime charge from the grand jury, Hummel said, adding that they are still investigating whether the shooting was racially motivated.
An attorney for Cranston accused the district attorney of deliberately distorting facts to inflame public opinion.
“When this case goes to trial, it will provide another example of why in this country cases are decided on the basis of evidence presented in court, not press conferences by politicians,” Kevin Sali said in a written statement.
Deschutes DA announces six counts against Ian Cranston — including murder— for killing of Barry Washington Jr. pic.twitter.com/jtxtnxzye8— Emily Cureton (@emilycureton) October 1, 2021
The defense lawyer said Washington assaulted Cranston, “without provocation, resulting in head injuries that required the police to take Mr. Cranston to the hospital where a brain scan and other procedures had to be performed,” and that “in direct contrast to the District Attorney’s public statements, that unprovoked assault was still actively in progress when the single shot was fired.”
Both the defense and the prosecution point to different video evidence.
The district attorney told OPB various security cameras clearly recorded the interactions between Washington, and three other people: Butler, Cranston and an unnamed friend of Cranston’s. This encounter culminated in a fight on the sidewalk outside the bar, with shoving and punches thrown, Hummel said.
Butler, Cranston’s girlfriend, released her own cellphone video of the fight to a local media outlet this week, reportedly with the blessing of Cranston’s defense attorney. The shaky footage shows just a few seconds of shoving between Washington and another person before the fatal gunshot cracks, and he falls back. The recording goes on for nearly a minute after Washington is on the ground. Butler appears to walk away and talk to bystanders. Cranston rendered aid and applied pressure to the wound, according to Hummel.
Bend Police officers who responded to the scene have faced criticism from Washington’s family for initially arresting Cranston on a single charge of second degree manslaughter. Cranston posted bail on that charge and was released from jail in less than 24 hours.
Cranston is scheduled for a court hearing Friday afternoon, Oct 1. He is currently lodged in the Deschutes County Jail on a no-bail warrant, Hummel said.
Since the shooting, hundreds of people have attended vigils for Washington.
“He was a nerd, there’s no other way to put it. He liked to play Pokémon. He played Nintendo every day,” said Max Petersen, Washington’s longtime friend and a roommate in Bend.
Washington moved to the area over the summer, and Petersen said he encouraged his friend to come from the Bay Area.
“I told him it would be a safe environment up here. But, that was obviously a lie.”
At one of the vigils, Black speakers shared experiences of racism in Central Oregon. Multiple people described being harassed while driving, or intimidated with trucks and revving engines.