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Local safety officials urge residents to be safe for the Fourth of July

COOS BAY — As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, safety officials around the area warn residents to stay alert and aware of proper firework safety this weekend.  

Ed Glazar, The World 

Tables full of fireworks Friday inside TNT Fireworks booth operated by the Family Worship Center at Fred Meyer in Coos Bay.

Coos Bay Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Adkins ask that residents be aware of the type of fireworks they use and to double check if they are legal to use in state.

“We haven’t put any restrictions within city limits, but fires related to fireworks are a pretty big deal,” said Adkins. “In the last five years we’ve had over $3 million worth in damages that have been caused from fireworks alone.”

Adkins said their department is following and promoting the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s firework safety campaign, which includes being prepared, being safe, being responsible and being aware. The campaign states that residents place their pets indoors, to avoid them running off from the loud noises, to have water nearby and to light fireworks in a safe, outdoor area.

Pastor Sheryl McLean, of the Family Worship Center, has been selling fireworks out of the TNT Fireworks booth in the Fred Meyer’s parking lot in Coos Bay since June 23. McLean said she’s noticed business has been a bit slow compared to last year, but hopes it will pick up by this weekend.

“The people we’ve had come in were looking for bigger fireworks, like mortars and things that shoot high up,” said McLean. “Of course, we don’t sell those because it’s illegal, but some people still ask for them."

According to the Oregon law, any firework that ejects balls of fire, explodes, flies more than 12 inches into the air or travels more than six feet on the ground is illegal to operate without a permit.

“We’ll be out here till the day after the holiday,” said McLean. “This is our organization’s fundraiser so we’re trying to raise money to go to our kid’s ministry fund. About 20 percent of the sales will be donated back to us.”

Jef Chase, of Coos Forest Protective Association, said he wants to remind those who will be out camping this holiday weekend to be mindful of their surroundings and to have fire tools on hand in case of an emergency.

Ed Glazar, The World 

Brianna Ladson, 13, and her brother Joseph supervise Friday as Pastor Erin Brown fixes a sign inside the TNT Fireworks booth operated by the Family Worship Center at Fred Meyer in Coos Bay.

“We’re always concern about potential fires and we want folks to be as fire safe as they can,” said Chase. “A lot of people assume because their campfire isn’t smoking that it’s out and safe, but we do have winds that can knock white ash off and it will start burning again.”

According to a press release from the Coos Forest Protective Association, public use restrictions will be going into effect starting July 1 on all lands protected by the CFPA. Chase said he wants people to pay attention to the fire danger rating charts placed around the county, which inform people about the potential fire conditions of a given area. The charts are color coded and range from low to extreme.

The Bureau of Land Management will also be implementing restrictions for BLM lands within the Coos Bay District also starting July 1. The restrictions will limit or prohibit certain activities from being performed on public lands including smoking, using a power saw or operating an open fire.

The use of fireworks outside city limits and on public lands are prohibited and those found operating fireworks can face fines up to $1,000 or jail time for 12 months.

“You are liable if you use fireworks in places you are not supposed to,” said Chase. “We have folks out there who think this will never happen to them, but it can. We are in fire season.”

DA: Eluding suspect shot eight times by police

COOS BAY —  A man who was killed by police June 23, after allegedly brandishing a rifle at police officers died of eight gunshot wounds to his head, neck, abdomen and legs.

Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said a press conference will be held Tuesday to discuss the facts in this shooting.

"I may also announce my legal conclusions as they pertain to this incident," Frasier said in the release. 

According to Frasier earlier this week, Eric Sweet, of Coos Bay, pointed the rifle at one of the police officers who responded to his residence at 475 Johnson Avenue after an earlier pursuit by police on a charge of driving with a suspended license. The pursuit was called off for safety reasons earlier that day and officers went to his house to arrest him on charges of driving with a suspended license and felony eluding police. Shots were fired from an officer with the Coos Bay Police Department, the Confederated Tribal Police and Oregon State Police. Sweet was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pacific School of Dance finds new home
New location is next to downtown Coos Bay

COOS BAY — When Pamela Chaney first started the Pacific School of Dance, it was in downtown Coos Bay in 1989. Today, she has come full circle.

The esteemed dance school has found a new home in the Coos Bay Masonic Temple at 295 N. Fourth St., Coos Bay. The move came after the Coos Bay BEST Bond was approved by voters, which meant the school needed to leave the space it rented at the old Eastside School before it was demolished and construction for a new building began.

In fact, the dance school’s last day at Eastside is June 30.

“The Coos Bay BEST Bond is something we supported for the kids in the community, but knew if it passed out lives were going to change and they did,” said Pamela Chaney, administrative director for the Pacific School of Dance. “We knew as soon as the initiative passed that we needed to start looking and we did, we looked everywhere.”

The biggest challenge the dance school faced while looking for a new home was finding a large enough space at a reasonable price. The corner of Eastside they rented previously was 4,000 square feet and the rent was affordable because the dance school is an off campus nonprofit program of the Boys and Girls Club of Southwestern Oregon.

When they walked into the Masonic Temple, they fell in love.

“Blanco Lodge Number 48 is the place,” Chaney said. “They have been our heroes. They feel the same way about children and the future that we do. Without their help and generosity, this could not have happened.”

The location was perfect not just because the price was right, but because it had tall ceilings and the room they rented was large enough to continue teaching their 120 dance students.

The other side of the dance school is Dance Umbrella of South Coast Oregon, another nonprofit responsible for bringing The Nutcracker and master teachers to town, sends students out for summer intensive dance programs, and focuses on the pre-professional part of training for students who want to make dance into a career.

“We support dance education through workshops, scholarships and performances,” Chaney said. “We support dance as a performing art through our pre-professional company ‘Ballet Pacific.’”

According to Pamela, Dance Umbrella is looking at purchasing the entire Masonic Temple building to make it into an art center. Though it hasn’t happened yet, Dance Umbrella is excited by the building’s space and potential.

“Moving into the new location has been a wonderful community effort,” Chaney said. “When we found this building, it was a fast move because we had to keep out kids going through the first weekend of June for our school recital and then had to go dark and move like crazy, so we really gathered the troops. By (Saturday) night, the last of our things are going to be gone from Eastside.”

Pacific School of Dance received help from parents, local businesses, and hired a Shutter’s Creek crew, which Chaney said “we couldn’t have done it without them.”

When the move began, Chaney wasn’t sure who would show up but the door kept opening and then she looked outside and saw more trucks and trailers than she expected.

“They were just there helping because they cared,” she said. “The kids have been excited with this and have helped pack up, tear the place apart, bring it here and put it back together.”

Because the school is now centrally located, Chaney said the school district can still drop kids off out front to take classes.

“It’s a wonderful neighborhood, close to downtown, which can stimulate other businesses,” Chaney said. “I do feel like I’ve come full circle.”

Coquille man indicted by grand jury on murder, assault charges

COQUILLE — A suspect in the murder of a Coquille man on June 23 was indicted Friday by a Coos County Grand Jury on murder and first-degree assault charges.

According to a press release from Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier, Manuel Daniel Delgado, 34, of Coquille, was indicted on count one of the intentional murder of Gregory Scott Durham, 51, of Coquille. Count two alleges first-degree assault for the attack on 46-year-old Michael Lucas, of Coquille. Lucas was found in the street in the 600 block South East Third Avenue in Coquille. The assault led to a police search of 618 South East Third Avenue where Durham was found. 

An autopsy on Durham conducted Thursday, revealed Durham died of extreme blood loss due to multiple stab wounds to Durham's head and upper neck, according to Frasier.

Delgado is expected to be arraigned on the indictment Monday at 8:30 a.m. in Coos County Circuit Court. No other information is available at this time.

Check back with for further updates to this article.

Defendant in newsroom rampage was investigated 5 years ago

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The man accused of killing five people at a Maryland newspaper was investigated five years ago for a barrage of menacing tweets against staff members, but a detective concluded he was no threat, and the paper didn't want to press charges for fear of inflaming the situation, according to a police report released Friday.

The newspaper was afraid of "putting a stick in a beehive."

The 2013 police report added to the picture emerging of Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, as the former information-technology employee with a longtime grudge against The Capital of Annapolis was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

Authorities said Ramos barricaded the rear exit of the office to prevent anyone from escaping and methodically blasted his way through the newsroom Thursday with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, gunning down one victim trying to slip out the back.

Three editors, a reporter and a sales assistant were killed.

"The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could," Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare said.

Ramos was denied bail in a brief court appearance he attended by video, watching attentively but saying nothing.

Authorities said he was "uncooperative" with interrogators. He was placed on a suicide watch in jail. His public defenders had no comment.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of life without parole. Maryland has no death penalty.

The bloodshed initially stirred fears that the recent surge of political attacks on the "fake news media" had exploded into violence. But by all accounts, Ramos had a specific, longstanding grievance against the paper.

President Donald Trump, who routinely calls reporters "liars" and "enemies of the people," said, "Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs."

Ramos had filed a defamation lawsuit against the paper in 2012 after it ran an article about him pleading guilty to harassing a woman. A judge later threw it out as groundless. Ramos had repeatedly targeted staffers with angry, profanity-laced tweets.

"There's clearly a history there," the police chief said.

Ramos launched so many social media attacks that retired publisher Tom Marquardt called police in 2013.

Altomare disclosed Friday that a detective investigated those concerns, holding a conference call with an attorney for the publishing company, a former correspondent and the paper's publisher.

The police report said the attorney produced a trove of tweets in which Ramos "makes mention of blood in the water, journalist hell, hit man, open season, glad there won't be murderous rampage, murder career."

The detective, Michael Praley, said in the report that he "did not believe that Mr. Ramos was a threat to employees" at the paper, noting that Ramos hadn't tried to enter the building and hadn't sent "direct, threatening correspondence."

"As of this writing the Capital will not pursue any charges," Praley wrote. "It was described as putting a stick in a beehive which the Capital Newspaper representatives do not wish to do."

Marquardt, the former publisher, said he talked with the newspaper's attorneys about seeking a restraining order but didn't because he and others thought it could provoke Ramos into something worse.

"We decided to take the course of laying low," he said Friday.

Later, in 2015, Ramos tweeted that he would like to see the paper stop publishing, but "it would be nicer" to see two of its journalists "cease breathing."

Then Ramos "went silent" for more than two years, Marquardt said.

The police chief said some new posts went up just before the killings but authorities didn't know about them until afterward.

Few details were released on Ramos, other than that he is single, has no children and lives in an apartment in Laurel, Maryland. He was employed by an IT contractor for the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2007 to 2014, a department spokesman said.

The rampage began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance to the open newsroom. Ramos carefully planned the attack, using "a tactical approach in hunting down and shooting the innocent people," prosecutor Wes Adams said. He said the gunman had an escape plan, too, but would not elaborate.

Journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places, describing agonizing minutes of terror as they heard the gunman's footsteps and the repeated blasts.

"I was curled up, trying not to breathe, trying not to make a sound, and he shot people all around me," photographer Paul Gillespie, who dove beneath a desk, told The Baltimore Sun, owner of the Annapolis paper.

Gillespie said he heard a colleague scream, "No!" A gunshot blast followed. He heard another co-worker's voice, then another shot.

About 300 officers arrived and began to corner Ramos within two minutes, a rapid response that "without question" saved lives, Altomare said. Ramos was hiding under a desk and did not exchange fire with police.

Also Friday, Hundreds of people gathered in the shadow of the Maryland State House for a candlelight march in memory of the slain newspaper employees.

The mood was somber Friday as Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis read aloud the names of his five slain co-workers before those gathers began marching through downtown Annapolis.

Some in the crowd carried signs and banners that said "#AnnapolisStrong."