On a sidewalk outside the Patagonia store at NW Oregon Avenue and NW Wall Street, flowers, balloons and candles mark the spot where Barry K. Washington Jr. became a victim of gun violence.
Washington’s relatives, who flew to Bend from the San Francisco Bay Area after he was shot and killed Sunday, said they were exhausted, physically and emotionally. Washington’s aunt, Valencia Roberson, said authorities in Bend have withheld key information, like the location of her nephew’s body.
The 22-year-old Washington was shot about 12:11 a.m. Sunday after leaving the Capitol nightclub. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel has said Ian Mackenzie Cranston, 27, pulled a gun and shot Washington after Washington spoke to Cranston’s girlfriend, which angered Cranston.
“I don’t care how far you go to try to lessen what this man did, it was premeditated murder. My nephew didn’t have an altercation with him,” Roberson said Tuesday as she stood next the sidewalk memorial. “I’m spent. I’m over it. I have nothing else to say.”
Police say the shooting was preceded by a “dispute” outside the club, but it’s not clear who was involved, though it’s not thought Washington was an aggressor.
Cranston was arrested at the scene on suspicion of second-degree manslaughter. He later posted $10,000 bail and was released.
Hummel has said he intends to take the case to a grand jury, where Cranston could face additional or more extreme charges. No case is listed in the state judicial database, and it’s not known if Cranston is represented by an attorney.
The district attorney said Washington’s body is at a funeral home outside the state police crime lab in Clackamas County.
The fact that Washington is Black and Cranston is white is not enough to call the shooting a bias crime on its own, Hummel said.
“That’s something we’re looking at, and it’s something we will decide in due time,” Hummel said.
Also Tuesday, the Bend City Council released a statement signed by all seven councilors.
“We mourn the loss of Barry Washington Jr., who was killed this weekend in downtown Bend. He was a son, a friend, and a member of this community. We must dig deep and examine ourselves and the systems and culture that have brought us to the point where a young person is shot and killed in our downtown.
“Gun violence is a routine part of life in other places. We do not accept it here. Mr. Washington’s death was totally preventable. We call on the community to come together and focus on how we can prevent these tragedies from happening in the city we all love. We call for justice and support for Mr. Washington’s family as they grieve this tragic loss.”
Councilor Rita Schenkelberg, who helped craft the council’s statement, said she could not speak for the council, but for her personally it was important to make a statement about diverse populations not feeling safe in Bend.
“And here we are mourning another black man’s death,” she said. “People are treated differently depending on their skin color and we know that.”
The shooting has angered many online, who see race as a factor.
“It’s definitely going to change Central Oregon,” said Luke Richter, head of the activist group Central Oregon Peacekeepers, who was at the makeshift memorial Tuesday. “This is one of those moments.”
Washington, who often went by “BJ” or “Money B,” was a native of Benicia, California, and graduate of Benicia High School, where he excelled at football and basketball. He also produced music.
“He was a very kind, sweet hearted young man with a lot of friends. He played sports and always encouraged people to be positive and have fun and always was smiling,” said classmate Jasmine Maher, who knew Washington since grade school.
Friend Milan Brown spoke of Washington’s thoughtfulness. School was hard for her and she often felt down, but she remembers Washington always had a kind word for her. She and her study partner regularly ate breakfast in the cafeteria. Sometimes, Washington would join them.
“Those were the best mornings,” Brown said.
“All in all I’m hurt by this loss. He’s the last person I’d ever think I’d lose. I just can’t imagine who would ever want to hurt him, he was so sweet,” Brown said. “I pray for his family. I know anyone who was even remotely close to him is hurting so much.”
Washington moved to Bend around a month and a half ago with a friend who has family connections to the area, according to his mother, Lawanda Roberson.
Though it’s been reported Washington traveled to Oregon to start a new life, his family says he was simply traveling and wasn’t sure how long he’d stay in Central Oregon.
“They came out here to get away from the Bay Area and to start their lives as young men,” she said. “He wanted to experience life.”