Following the chaos of the Jan. 14 mass shooting at the WOW Hall, Eugene Police Chief Skinner said no witnesses had come forward. However, a local rapper says he saw the shooting and has audio that he gave to a detective.
Around 9:30 pm Friday, Jan. 14, calls came in reporting a shooting at the Community Center for the Performing Arts, better known as the WOW Hall at 8th and Lincoln in Eugene.
According to an early Saturday morning Eugene Police Department press conference, six people were shot behind the WOW Hall.
EPD Chief Chris Skinner said at the conference that the scene was chaotic, “what you would expect” when six people just got shot. He called the incident the “highest profile shooting we’ve had in the city of Eugene,” and when asked if it was a mass shooting, he said the definition was if three or more people are shot.
There were no fatalities as of Jan. 15. An EPD update says, “One victim remains in critical condition, and the remaining five are stable. All of the victims with the exception of one are from out of town and appear to have traveled here for the concert. Two are female and four are male.”
The lone suspect is a male in a hooded sweatshirt who was seen running away from the scene.
According to the WOW Hall’s website, Lil Bean and Zay Bang were listed as the headlining act with Eugene rappers Peacoat Gang, Savelle Tha Native, DRETHEMC and Khoraan.
Local rapper and former mayoral candidate Thomas Hiura says he did come forward to a police detective at the scene and provided a statement as well as video and audio footage.
Hiura, who raps as Gradient, says he wants to make sure there is accurate information out there on what happened. For one thing, he says as someone who raps himself in the Eugene scene, there is a tendency for show bookers to lump all rap and hip hop together and assume there might be violence. “In the vast majority of my experience that’s not the case,” Hiura says.
Hiura says he was there primarily to see Savelle Tha Native who was about to take the stage when the shooting happened. Savelle himself posted a live stream on Facebook of the aftermath.
Hiura says he could pretty clearly see the gunman shooting but could not see who or what he was shooting at beyond that it was toward the door artists use to go in the WOW Hall. He says the shooter was pretty steady and described him as having “some vindictiveness” toward what he was shooting at.
Chief Skinner said at the press conference that at that time it was not clear if the shooting was targeted or random. He said officers were looking for shell casings to determine how many shots were fired and urges witnesses to come forward.
Hiura says, “This shooting occurred from seemingly no prior conflict. I had no semblance or sense of tension.” He says he and others were “blindsided” by the shooting.
A statement posted on the WOW Hall website calls the shooting “unprecedented at WOW Hall,” and says WOW staff and volunteers are safe. WOW Hall Interim Executive Director Deb Maher and board Chair Jack Guerena thank first responders and urge witnesses to reach out to EPD. The tip line for the shooting incident is 541-682-5162.
Eugene Weekly has reached out to EPD about Hiura’s witness statement.
This story has been updated.