Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, Aug. 8 – Golden Fire Now 100% Contained; More Bizarre Findings with Suspected Interstate Kidnapping Case Says FBI

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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Air Quality Alert for the Klamath Basin

Today
Sunny, with a high near 91. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Overnight, mostly clear with a low around 57 degrees.
 
Wednesday
Sunny, with a high near 89. Light and variable wind becoming west southwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 89. Light and variable wind becoming west southwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon.
Friday
Sunny, with a high near 92.
Saturday
Sunny, with a high near 93.
Sunday
Sunny, with a high near 95.
 

Today’s Headlines

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call just before 9am on Saturday morning at the Exchange Park on South 6th Street near the Klamath County Fairgrounds. Two victims reported being threatened with a pistol in an attempt to get them to empty their pockets.

When they refused, the male suspect fled the scene in a black SUV. The victims were able to provide a good description of the suspect, the vehicle, and the direction he took leaving the scene.

The suspect vehicle was later located at a residence in the 2900 block of Altamont Drive. Klamath County Sheriff’s Office deputies surrounded the residence and called out the owner who then gave permission to search the house.

Located inside the residence was the suspect, a 17-year-old male, who was taken into custody and lodged at the Klamath County Detention Center and charged with Robbery First Degree, Menacing, and the Unlawful Use of a Weapon. The weapon believed used in the crime was located and determined to be a pellet pistol. (The juveniles name is not being released.)   

A total of 6 individuals were contacted at the residence. In addition to the mentioned juvenile a 16-year-old female was taken into custody on an outstanding juvenile warrant and an adult male was lodged in the Klamath County Detention Center on a Probation Detainer. (kcso press release)

 

The story of an alleged interstate kidnapping resulting in a woman being held in a makeshift cell in a garage of a local home is becoming more complex and bizarre. Negasi Zuberi has made national headlines after the FBI in Portland alleged he kidnapped a woman in Seattle, sexually assaulted her, drove her to Klamath Falls, and imprisoned her in this makeshift cinderblock cell.

The FBI says the kidnapping happened in the early hours of Saturday, July 15.

Zuberi’s ex-partner says she didn’t hear or see anything that night and that Zuberi told her he was going to Seattle to look at potential rental properties according to an interview with a Portland TV station and FBI.

Negasi Zuberi’s ex-partner is still currently living in the home in Klamath Falls where the FBI alleges Zuberi held a woman captive in a cinderblock cell.

The ex-partner asked  the media not show her face or reveal her name to protect the privacy of her and their two young children.

She denies the allegations presented by the FBI against the father of her children and claims she has no idea the alleged kidnapping took place.

However, it was revealed to the public and widely reported last week that back in 2018, Zuberi  appeared in a 2018 episode of “Judge Judy”, is drawing attention on social media after the plaintiff in the episode the mother of his children,  who identified herself  on that program as Alycia Westfall, for throwing a glass bottle at him and damaging his suits with bleach during a fight.

At the time of the episode being filmed, Zuberi and Westfall were living separately, not in a romantic relationship and sharing custody of their son.

The house that Zuberi allegedly built the makeshift cell was in a garage here in Klamath Falls, and is owned by mayor Carol Westfall.  Zuberi’s ex-partner told the Portland TV station it wasn’t a cell, but a room he was just trying to expand.

Law enforcement also discovered these disturbing notes they allege were written by Zuberi, one page titled “Operation Takeover.”

On July 26, Negasi Zuberi made his first appearance in front of a federal judge in Nevada. He remains in custody and will be extradited to Oregon where he will appear in federal court.

If you believe you have been a victim or have any information concerning Zuberi (aka Sakima) visit the website: fbi.gov/SakimaVictims or call 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can also contact the FBI Portland Field Office at (503) 224-4181, your local FBI office, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, or you can submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. (FBI/KPTV/Herald and News and other media sources)

 

The Golden Fire, the biggest so far this summer that was burning north of Bonanza has been 100% contained. The fire remains at 2,137 acres burned and the cause is still under investigation.

Firefighters will continue to patrol the fire and conduct daily checks. The Southern Oregon Fire Management Partnership and Lakeview Interagency Fire Center say that this fire could still have some hazards left behind.

They advise everyone returning to the area to use extreme caution. Klamath and Lake County residents should continue to follow all burn regulations. New fires can start easily, especially in the current extreme fire danger conditions. (SOFMP press release)

 

Klamath Deputies Find And Destroy Three Illegal Marijuana Grow Operations

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office executed search warrants on three properties last Wednesday and Thursday.

Pictured is one of the illegal marijuana grow operations destroyed by Klamath County deputies this week. Photo courtesy of Klamath County Sheriff’s Office

On Wednesday, a search warrant was served in the 36000 block of Highway 97 near Chiloquin. Two subjects were cited and released for possession and manufacturing marijuana. A total of 288 plants were destroyed and one greenhouse used in the production was destroyed.

Using Oregon prices for the product, the value of the illegal crop was estimated to have been worth $1.7 million. The amount of water estimated to have been used was 155,500 gallons. Because there were children at the residence, DHS-Child Protective Services was notified as a precaution.

On Thursday, a search warrant was served on Yainax Drive, north of Beatty. No one was at this location, but 800 marijuana plants and two greenhouses were destroyed. The value of the illegal crop was estimated to have been approximately $4.7 million. Approximately 432,000 gallons of water had been used to grow this illegal crop with water obtained from an adjoining property.

Also on Thursday, a search warrant was served on Moccasin Lane north of Sprague River. No one was at the site, but sleeping quarters were discovered. A total of 678 marijuana plants were destroyed along with four greenhouses. The value of the illegal marijuana was estimated to have been worth $4.5 million, and 366,120 gallons of water had been used in the operation.

The Inter-Agency narcotics team (BINET), Code Enforcement, the Oregon Water Master’s office , and Klamath County Solid Waste added additional resources in the eradication.

 

Roadwork that began last year at Lava Beds National Monument last year is scheduled to resume this month with a goal of completing pavement preservation by September.

Lava Beds spokesman Marc Blackburn said that when road repairs ended last November, crews had completed the work on the park road from the north entrance to about a mile south of the visitor center. He said paving and other miscellaneous tasks will be ongoing this month, noting, “we anticipate that work will be completed by the Labor Day weekend.”

Over the course of the coming weeks, he said visitors should expect delays up to 20 minutes in the construction zone. Work will be done Monday through Friday but not on weekends or holidays, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. People are asked to obey the instructions of the flaggers and watch for the pilot car before traveling through the construction zone. As always, visitors are asked to obey posted speed limits.

Although visitation figures were not available, he noted during the Juneteenth holiday “we had nearly 1,000 people in the visitor center.”

Free cave permits, which are required for any of the lava tube caves, are available at the visitor center during operating hours, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The permits are intended to ensure visitors cave safely and to reduce the chance of a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease that can spread and inflict bats.

Caves that are currently closed are Ovis, Paradise Alleys, Blue Grotto and Balcony.

Among the several caves most commonly visited, the least challenging with relatively high ceilings and established trails currently open include Mushpot, Valentine, Skull, Sentinel, Merrill, Heppe, and Big Painted and Symbol Bridge Caves. Open caves regarded as moderately challenging are Golden Dome, Sunshine, Indian Well, and Boulevard. The most challenging caves, which require crawling and have confusing passages, include Labyrinth, Lava Brook, Hopkins Chocolate, Hercules Leg, Juniper, Catacombs and Thunderbolt. (Herald and News)

 

Coming to The Ragland Theater, Klamath Falls…. Disney’s THE LION KING!

 

Around the state of Oregon

Flat Fire Climbs to Nearly 50,000 Acres As First Responders Battle Multiple Blazes

There are still 37 active fires taking place in the state of Oregon

Multiple active fires in Oregon have scorched thousands of acres of land as firefighters continue to push efforts to contain the blaze. As of Monday morning, 48,837 acres of land were burned across the state according to Oregon Wildfire Response & Recovery, a local agency tracking the fires.

The Flat Fire begins its third week in Curry County near Agness.

Crews are securing and improving existing containment lines to keep the fire within the current footprint. Firefighters are conducting mop-up to secure lines and are performing constant visual assessments in all divisions. Structure protection resources remain in place around Agness, actively surveying and evaluating structures.

With increased fire traffic, all motorists are asked to use caution – slow down and use headlights, especially on Bear Camp Road.  (usda forest service press release)

 

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has announced that one of their firefighters has died in a car crash.

21-year-old Benjamin Charles Sapper was on-duty and traveling with a crew yesterday when the crew was involved in a car crash. Coquille Fire & Rescue said the car left the roadway above Powers.

Sapper was a first-year hand crew member on the Gold Beach Ranger District. He was originally from Boulder, Colorado, and was an avid baseball player, chess player and skier. Sapper was supposed to start graduate school this fall at the University of British Columbia.

A spokesperson for the Gold Beach District said that “this is a devastating loss of one of our own Gold Beach firefighters. We have a tight knit community on the Gold Beach and Powers Ranger Districts, and we stand together in grief and support for his family, friends, and fellow firefighters during this heartbreaking time.  (RR/Siskiyou National forest press release/KDRV 12)

 

Oregon’s 197 school districts will have record funding this year to improve literacy and to pay for school operations.

Gov. Tina Kotek on Wednesday signed into law seven new education initiatives, including the largest state school fund budget ever allocated, $140 million to improve student reading and writing and a host of other bills aimed at growing the teacher workforce, improving access to child care and enhancing student equity.

Kotek signed the bills flanked by teachers, school staff, politicians and education advocates from across the state.

She was also joined by the new director of the Oregon Department of Education, Charlene Williams, as well as Williams’ predecessor Colt Gill. Several lawmakers spoke at the signing, including the chairs of the Senate and House education committees, Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville.

Dembrow applauded lawmakers for getting key education legislation passed after being stalled for six-weeks during the Republican-led Senate walkout over bills on gun control, abortion rights and gender-affirming care.

 

Murder Suspect Arrested in Grants Pass

2023-08/6530/165502/Press_Release_2.png

Grants Pass, Ore. – On August 5, 2023, at approximately 11:18 PM, the Grants Pass Police Department received 911 reports of a shooting that had occurred in the 1200 block of SW Isham. 

Upon arrival, officers found the victim lying in the residence’s front yard.  Officers provided immediate lifesaving care to the victim, 36-year-old Travis Economy.  He was transported to the hospital by ambulance and succumbed to his injuries at the Three Rivers Medical Center.

Grants Pass Police detectives and members of the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office responded to investigate the shooting.  The subsequent investigation determined the shooting had occurred during a disturbance at the residence.  The suspect, 22-year-old Asa Krueger, was arrested and lodged at the Josephine County Jail on charges of 2nd Degree Murder and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.

Further information about the ongoing investigation will be released by the District Attorney’s Office.

 

Deputies Overhear Fight in White City Parking Lot, Arrest Teen for Assault, Victim in ICU

JCSO Case 23-4435

WHITE CITY, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies were patrolling in the area of the 7600 block of Crater Lake Highway in White City Sunday night, when they heard what sounded like a physical fight in the Lil’ Pantry parking lot.

JCSO deputies responded and located the victim lying on the ground with physical injuries requiring medical treatment The victim was transported by Mercy Flights ambulance to a local hospital and is in serious condition in the ICU. The suspect was not on scene.

Later the JCSO deputies located and stopped the suspect’s vehicle in the 8300 block of Agate Road and took him into custody without incident. The suspect, Clifton Michael Struble, 19, from Central Point, was booked and lodged in the Jackson County Jail for fourth-degree assault and second-degree disorderly conduct.

This case is under investigation with deputies following additional leads. There is no further information available at this time.

 

More than six dozen people were wrongfully convicted of driving with a suspended license in Washington and Clackamas counties based on faulty state DMV records, prosecutors say.

The district attorneys in each county began auditing their prosecutions after The Oregonian/OregonLive reported in February that Oregon’s Driver and Motor Vehicle Services has improperly recorded about 3,000 driver’s licenses in the last two decades as suspended indefinitely.

The DMV is doing an internal analysis and working to correct its records,

The DMV’s recordkeeping has caused the problem by entering either 12/31/9999 or 00/00/0000 for the date when license suspensions are supposed to end but then not going back to change the placeholder with the real date.

Police have ended up arresting people when they check DMV records and find someone supposedly driving on a suspended license — sometimes long after the suspension has ended — based on the bad dates.

(Oregon News)

 

Smith Rock State Park is slated to get a new, wider pedestrian bridge this summer and fall, which means there will be no bridge access for up to six weeks starting Aug. 14.

Visitors can also expect intermittent delays through September due to the construction, which starts this week. Parking at the overflow parking lot might also be impacted. Check the Oregon State Park website for updates.

The footbridge at Smith Rock spans the Crooked River in Central Oregon near Bend and connects the front of the park with many but not all of its hiking trails and climbing destinations. There will be no temporary bridge, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department discourages wading across the river due to sensitive habitat and safety concerns. 

The old bridge was built nearly 50 years ago and reconstructed about 30 years ago and has significant wear and needs replacing. The new bridge will measure 8 feet wide and better accommodate visitors and first responders during the park’s frequent rescue operations. 

Crews will begin the work this week and continue through September, but the biggest impact to visitors is the six-week bridge closure. The goal is to complete as much of the bridge construction as possible between Aug. 14 and Sept. 22.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will update information on the footbridge closure dates and times on the Smith Rock webpage and through smithrock.com/ as information becomes available. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the park at 541-548-7501 or email the park manager at Matthew.DAVEY@oprd.oregon.gov.

Police are warning residents about fake bills of money being littered near Multnomah Falls. The U.S. Forest Service says there have been instances of hikers risking their lives going off-trail near the falls to recover what looked like 100-dollar bills on a dangerous hillside.

On Saturday, Portland Mountain Rescue rappelled down the cliff to recover the cash that turned out to be money used as a prop in a movie. There were 15 bills about 30 feet over the edge of the falls. They don’t know whether it’s connected to social media posts where influencers stash money in dangerous outdoor places where people can find it.

(Oregon News)

 

The United States Postal Service may stop processing mail in Medford and Eugene

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is considering moving mail processing for nearly all of Oregon to its new processing center near the Portland International Airport.

The move would change how mail and packages are handled, and some postal union members say it would lead to job losses and slower delivery. Workers in Eugene and Medford would be most affected, they say.

Caitlin Cusimano, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 679 in Eugene, said the union has been told the change will lead to the layoff of 12 postal support employees in four Eugene postal stations, but they’ll be offered the opportunity to transfer to Bend, Bozeman, or Billings.

The changes are part of a nationwide plan to consolidate mail and package processing at 60 massive facilities that USPS is calling Regional Processing and Distribution Centers.

The way the system works now, mail and packages that are intended for destinations within the same three-digit ZIP code area, like 974, are processed locally, at the nearest mail processing center. Oregon currently has processing centers in Portland, Eugene, and Medford.

If the proposed changes are approved, items would be first trucked to Portland, then trucked back. In the case of a letter or parcel mailed in Medford to a Medford address, they’d have to be trucked more than four hours each way to and from Portland. That could add up to an additional day to delivery time.

USPS will hold public meetings to explain the proposed changes:

  • Eugene: 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at the Holiday Inn Express, 919 Kruse Way, Springfield
  • Medford: 3-5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1000 Garden Way, Medford

The Eugene and Medford mail processing centers were slated for closure in 2015, but that plan was scrapped after Oregon’s entire Congressional delegation called on the USPS to keep them open.

 

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