Man accused of plotting Oregon mass shooting arraigned on 26 charges

By Joni Auden Land (OPB)
Oct. 27, 2023 10:25 p.m.

Rock climber Samson Garner appeared in court Friday to answer charges, including those for attempted murder

Prosecutors arraigned a Portland man Friday on charges of plotting a mass shooting at an outdoor event in Central Oregon.

Samson Garner, 39, appeared in court via video from the Deschutes County Adult Jail. Little changed from his initial indictment — prosecutors are seeking 26 separate charges, including four for attempted murder.

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Samson Garner, left, watches during his arraignment at the Deschutes County Courthouse in Bend. Prosecutors allege Garner plotted to carry out a mass shooting at Smith Rock near Redmond.

Samson Garner, left, watches during his arraignment at the Deschutes County Courthouse in Bend. Prosecutors allege Garner plotted to carry out a mass shooting at Smith Rock near Redmond.

Joni Land / OPB

Prosecutors have alleged he planned to commit a mass shooting at a climbing event at Smith Rock in Central Oregon, about 9 miles north of Redmond.

Related: Oregon rock climber charged over mass killing plot at Smith Rock mountaineering event

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Garner was at one time an active member of the outdoor climbing community.

Garner’s court-appointed attorney, Joel Wirtz, declined to reveal details about the defense’s strategy Friday, including whether Garner would receive any psychiatric treatment.

“I look forward to defending against these false accusations and I look forward to the truth coming out in front of the jury,” Wirtz said.

A few weeks before Garner’s arrest in Central Oregon, a Michigan family court judge ordered him to seek a psychiatric evaluation as part of divorce proceedings.

Related: Oregon rock climber’s life collapsed years before alleged mass shooting plot

Deschutes County District Attorney Steve Gunnels told OPB last week that Garner had driven three hours to Redmond in order to carry out the attack while being armed. Law enforcement became aware of the threat following several tips, Gunnels said.

Garner will return to court on Dec. 14 to enter a plea.

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