A muted response to a shot

The Keizer City Council voted unanimously to release the investigative report on the former city manager’s discharge of gun in his office in early March. This after the city denied requests for access to the full report from the Keizertimes.

The report has since been posted on the city’s website as well as in the media. Upon reading, it is not difficult to understand why the city didn’t want to release it. The city’s initial denial for the report’s release was based on personal privacy and due process issues. Some city officials are shown in less than flattering light.

What is striking is that the reaction from those in city hall at the time was so muted. A gun shot in an office in this time in our country should unnerve anyone. Shannon Johnson, the city attorney —whose office is near the city manager’s office—heard the shot. According to the report he went to the city manager’s office, who told him, “It’s okay, it’s okay.” In the report Johnson told the investigator, “…I just left. I didn’t ask any questions, I just left.”

A number of people heard the bang—though not all thought it was a gunshot. According to the city manager’s statement, he went to staff in the area around his office and apologized for the discharge of the gun. 

A gunshot in any public building is unnerving, especially in light of the large number of recent mass shooting incidents across the United States. The public should question why the Keizer Police Department was not immediately informed of the gun discharge. Police Chief John Teague told the investigator he was unaware of the gun discharge until asked for a response from the Keizertimes.

In a subsequent investigation the Oregon State Patrol concluded that the city manager’s discharge of his personal gun was not a crime. That may be, but the city has workplace violence policies prohitbing anyone other than police offices from carrying firearms in the building without permission. There is no evidence any such permission was given to the city manager. 

Reaction from the public included surprise and shock. There were calls for forgiveness. Would the reaction be different if it was, for example, a teacher, who had brought a firearm into school and it accidentally discharged? We think not.

We hope this was an isolated incident. It was unfortunate and it cost the city manager his job after a celebrated two-decade career with the City of Keizer. He has since been hired to work in community development for Marion County. The incident of March 4 demonstrates how easily a firearm can be brought into a public building. We have not reached the point where metal detectors are needed and hopefully never will. We must rely on those entering our governmental and education buildings to adhere to the laws and statutes designed to keep people safe.

A gun was fired in Keizer City Hall.The reaction was lackluster. The city council and city officials should be more forthcoming in explaining why.                —LAZ