Molalla mayor, fearing for life, pulls gun at Buckeroo grounds
A Saturday night disturbance saw Molalla Mayor Scott Keyser draw a firearm and aim it at a vehicle as he and City Councilor Eric Vermillion confronted a speeding car at the Molalla Buckeroo grounds.
Keyser said that in that moment, he feared for his safety, prompting the response.
The pair were part of the Molalla Cares group operating an evacuation point at the Buckeroo grounds Friday, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 10 for animals displaced by the McIver Park wildfire. Saturday evening around 9 p.m., things took an unexpectedly dangerous turn.
In a public video posted by the mayor to social media on Monday, Sept. 12, Keyser said he and Vermillion were at the lower gates when in the distance they heard several loud sounds, which Keyser described as "big kabooms."
Keyser's video was posted to offer his side of the story amid rumors and conjecture swirling around the incident. Keyser said that what happened that night wasn't a secret, telling viewers that the incident is being investigated by the Clackamas County Sheriff.
"I don't have anything to hide. I have a witness, another city councilor who was with me," he said. "We both felt our lives were in danger, and I took action."
According to Keyser, someone at another section of the grounds shouted "Stop that car," when a vehicle came flying down a ramp and went into the rodeo grounds at high speeds. With evacuated animals in the grounds, there was concern for their well-being, Keyser said.
According to Keyser, the vehicle turned a "cookie" in the grounds, then headed for the gate he and Vermillion were manning. He said he put his hands up and yelled for the car to stop, but felt that the vehicle accelerated toward him.
"At that point, I drew my sidearm, and for those of you who don't understand that, I pulled my gun that was clearly on my side, it was not concealed — and I aimed it at the driver's side windshield of that car because I felt that vehicle was going to run me over," Keyser said.
The vehicle came to a stop just short of Keyser, who then put his gun away and approached the vehicle to talk to the people inside, a man and woman.
Keyser said it seemed the man was agitated and shouted that he was a Molalla Buckeroo board member and accused Keyser and Vermillion of breaking onto the property. Eventually, Keyser said he simply walked away because communicating with the pair was a struggle.
The Molalla Police Department was called and responded quickly and would later turn the scene over to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, who began an investigation.
They asked Keyser questions, photographed his guns, then Keyser was asked to remove himself from the property, ostensibly at the behest of the Molalla Buckeroo Board president, through the police, according to Keyser.
For his part, Keyser said that he would pay whatever price the investigation called for. He also reiterated that the incident would not prompt him to resign as mayor of Molalla. If people wanted him out, they could start a recall effort if they wanted.
"However the investigation turns out is how it turns out. If they say I did something wrong, I will pay the price," Keyser said. "I will man up and I will do whatever I need to do. But I knew that night, I'm going to go home alive."
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office is continuing the investigation and the story will be updated as new information becomes available.
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