Central Oregon DailySmith Rock climbing event organizer responds after ‘violent attack’ plot arrest

Smith Rock climbing event organizer responds after ‘violent attack’ plot arrest

Smith Rock climbing event organizer responds after ‘violent attack’ plot arrest

Smith Rock climbing event organizer responds after ‘violent attack’ plot arrest

(STORY UPDATED with statement from organizers of the Craggin’ Classic and comment from Smith Rock State Park)

A Portland man was arrested in Deschutes County Thursday afternoon, suspected of planning a “violent attack” during an event.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) said Samson Zebturiah Garner, 39, was taken into custody without incident. Deschutes County Court documents say Garner is charged with four counts of attempted murder, eight counts of attempt to commit a felony and 15 counts of unlawful use of a weapon.

DCSO said it received information on Monday from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) about a Portland resident planning a violent attack in Deschutes County area. Detectives worked with PPB detectives to investigate Garner.

They learned Garner had left Portland Thursday and was in Deschutes County. After his vehicle was located here, deputies and SWAT moved in. 

After arresting Garner, a search warrant on his vehicle uncovered evidence of the planned attack, DCSO said.

DCSO said detectives have determined there is no continued threat and that it appears, at this time, that Garner was acting alone.

“The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Portland Police Bureau for sharing this information about Garner likely preventing a major incident in Deschutes County,” DCSO said in a statement.

Weapons indicated in the charging documents included a Beretta 9mm handgun, a Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, an AR-15 rifle and an HG1.

Neither the sheriff’s office nor the charging documents indicated where the attack would take place. But the documents did identify potential victims as “Belayer 1,” “Belayer 2,” “Spectator 1” and “Spectator 2.” 

A belayer is someone who controls a safety rope for a climber, to ensure that the climber doesn’t hit the ground of they fall.

While the police report and court documents did not specifically state what event was targeted, the only major climbing event happening in Deschutes County this weekend is the Craggin’ Classic at Smith Rock State Park.

The American Alpine Club in Colorado, which organizes the Craggin’ Classic, released a statement. While it did not specifically mention Garner, it does reference a potential threat to the event.

“On October 18, the American Alpine Club was made aware of a potential threat to the health and safety of attendees to the Smith Rock Craggin Classic to be held October 20-22, 2023, at Smith Rock State Park.

We worked closely with law enforcement agencies and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to monitor the situation and evaluate our ability to host the event, with the safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers, partners, and participants as our top priority. The associated individual was arrested and is now in custody, and authorities are confident there is no continued threat.

We are grateful to the law enforcement agencies for their efforts and support during this incident.

Please direct any questions and inquiries regarding the ongoing investigation to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.”

Central Oregon Daily News spoke with Smith Rock State Park Manager Matt Davey Saturday. who did not confirm that the Craggin’ Classic was the target, but said the park was briefed by the sheriff’s office.

An arraignment on the indictment is set for Oct. 27.

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