2 Baker County men slain at deer camp are identified

WesCom News Service /

Published Oct 5, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Jan 16, 2014 at 01:54PM

The two Baker County men who were shot to death at a cabin near Granite late Wednesday have been identified as Michael Piete, 43, and Kenneth Gilliland, 64.

Piete was the foster father of the 14-year-old boy suspected of shooting the men, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said Friday.

The two men lived on Dry Creek Road off Highway 30 southeast of Baker City, Palmer said.

He declined to release the suspect’s name because of his age. No charges have been filed.

One victim was shot inside the cabin and the other was shot outside, he said.

The three were staying with two others at a cabin at a deer camp on private land off Forest Road 1305 about nine miles southwest of Granite, in Grant County. The cabin is owned by Bill Gilliland, of Tidewater on the Alsea River east of Waldport. He is Kenneth Gilliland’s brother.

After the shooting, Bill Gilliland drove to Granite, where he contacted police and ambulance service, Palmer said.

The Baker County dispatch center received a call at about 12:28 a.m. regarding the incident, according to a press log.

According to authorities, the boy left the cabin on foot and at some point accidentally shot himself in the right leg. He returned to the cabin for help and another man held the boy at gunpoint and ordered him to the floor.

The man, who was not identified, Palmer said, got on top of the boy to restrain him and later duct-taped him to a chair until law enforcement arrived.

A John Day ambulance responded to the scene and transported the boy to St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City. He later was flown by air ambulance to a Boise hospital.

Palmer said Friday that there has been no update on the boy’s condition. He added that even though the boy is in the custody of Grant County, the hospital will not release information because of federal privacy laws.

The suspect is expected to recover from the gunshot wound to his right leg, Palmer added.

The Grant County major crime team, which includes the sheriff’s office, Oregon State Police, the district attorney and the juvenile department, are continuing to investigate to determine what led to the shooting.

At first glance, the one-room log cabin in the Blue Mountains of Oregon looks like any other deer camp: a wood stove for heat, soft drinks piled outside on the porch to keep them cold, and camouflage clothing hanging from the stairs leading to a loft.

Closer examination begins to tell a tragic story. A piece of clothing soaked in dark red blood lies crumpled on the floor near a bolt-action rifle with a telescopic sight, the bolt open.

The images are contained in photos released Friday by the Grant County sheriff’s office, which says a 14-year-old boy shot and killed his foster father and another man at the cabin while they were on a deer-hunting trip in dense forest outside the tiny community of Granite.

The boy, who was not identified because of his age, shot and killed the two men at the cabin around midnight Wednesday then ran off before accidentally shooting himself in the leg, Sheriff Glenn Palmer said.

He returned to the cabin for help, and another member of the hunting party held him at gunpoint and taped him to a chair until deputies arrived.

There was no immediate word on a motive or possible charges against the teen. Palmer said he filled out a probable cause affidavit, listing two counts each of homicide and unlawful use of a firearm. He said the boy was expected to recover from the gunshot wound.

The owner of the cabin had to drive nine miles to Granite and wake up a resident he did not know to contact authorities. The boy was driven by ambulance to the hospital in Baker City then flown to a hospital in Boise, Idaho.

Hunting camp is a time-honored fall tradition in rural areas of the Northwest. Kids skip school to learn hunting skills from their parents and grandparents.

When the timber industry dominated the rural economy, sawmills would shut down for a week to let workers have time to bag a buck that would help feed their family through the winter.

Palmer said it was not clear how long the party had been at the cabin near Granite. Deer season started Sept. 28 in Eastern Oregon.

Little was known about the victims, Michael Piete, 43, and Kenneth C. Gilliland, 64, whose driver’s licenses listed the same address on a country road outside Baker City, 25 miles east of the cabin.

Palmer did not know what the two men did for a living. Piete had lived previously in the little nearby town of Haines, a former stage coach stop and railhead for livestock that has about 400 residents.

Authorities were not saying just what happened at the cabin.

One victim was shot inside the cabin, another outside, and a rifle and pistol were involved, but the gun visible in the photograph was not involved, Palmer said. The shooting did not appear to be alcohol-related.

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