A Medford man confronted by a transient armed with a knife Monday night outside a Bend fast-food restaurant said he feared for his safety and shot him with a handgun he is legally allowed to carry as a concealed weapon.
Bend Police say Robert Joseph Garris, 39, shot Christopher Michael Nolan, 39, “multiple times” outside the Jack in the Box at 805 NE Third St. Nolan had allegedly pulled out a knife at about 9:38 p.m. and approached Garris, who was staying at a nearby motel, police said.
“It’s just one of those things that you hope never happens,” Garris said Wednesday. “But it happened, and now I’ve got to live with it for the rest of my life.”
Garris said Nolan approached him acting aggressively and wielding a large hunting knife. Nolan was with another man, said Garris, who added that he did not know either individual. Garris said he warned the men several times before firing.
Nolan was acting like he was on drugs, Garris said, and he seemed to believe Garris was a police officer.
“He had an obvious problem with law enforcement,” Garris said.
Nolan was taken by the Bend Fire Department to St. Charles Bend with life-threatening injuries. Garris was taken to the Bend Police Department for questioning and released.
Police Chief Jim Porter said Wednesday evening that Nolan is alive and “anticipated to recover.”
Porter also confirmed Garris is a lawful holder of a concealed weapon permit that was issued in Jackson County.
Porter said the investigation is ongoing.
“Whenever people invoke self-defense, we always work slowly and methodically to make sure we have a totality of all the available information,” Porter said. “In this case, we have some video footage which supports Mr. Garris’ account.”
The shooting is also being reviewed by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office. Charges against one or more parties involved could come, said District Attorney John Hummel.
The current standard in Oregon to justify using lethal force in self-defense comes from the case State v. Charles in 1982. It states a person must “reasonably believe that another person is using or is about to use deadly force against him or her.”
Bend Police have not said whether Garris legally used lethal force.
Nolan has a criminal record in Oregon dating to 1999, including numerous felony convictions for drugs, theft and assault. He was arrested in 2015 in Bend after challenging three police officers to kill him while he wielded a large knife. He reportedly began cutting his wrists and neck as he ran away.
Garris said he hasn’t been told if he’ll be charged with a crime, or been given an update on Nolan’s condition. He said he just wants to put this incident behind him.
Garris said he’s a law-abiding citizen and now he’s concerned for his safety because of threats made by the man Nolan was with.
“I just don’t want to be involved with those people,” said Garris, who has a family in Jackson County. “I don’t want this coming back to me.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, firstname.lastname@example.org