Eugene murder victim was studying to become a pastor

Student and staff at New Hope Christian College describe Blake Schaufler as a loving, caring man.

Posted: Jan 15, 2020 12:45 PM
Updated: Jan 16, 2020 6:36 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Students and staff at New Hope Christian College in Eugene say they're in a state of disbelief following the murder of student Blake Schaufler, 23.

Schaufler was gunned down Wednesday in an apartment near Autzen Stadium.

On Thursday prosecutors charged the suspect, Alejandro Ponce, 23, with murder in the second degree and attempted murder constituting domestic violence. Although court documents identify the second victim, KEZI 9 News is witholding the person's name because it involves allegations of domestic violence.

Ponce was taken into custody Wednesday night after turning himself in, police said, ending a widespread manhunt that terrorized a Eugene neighborhood for hours. He was arraigned on Thursday and his next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m.

Staff told KEZI 9 News that Schaufler was in his first year at New Hope and was studying to become a pastor.

"Knowing his struggles and everything, he was just inspriational to me and that's what I'm going to miss about him," Schaufler's roommate Rydre Sera said. 

KEZI 9 News talked to New Hope student Jordan Flowers, who knew Schaufler. 

"Blake didn't live for himself, he lived for other people. Even during his last day, he was living for someone else. It's just, that's Blake," Flowers said.

Students and staff said they're not surprised to hear Schaufler died defending someone else. 

"I'm proud of him. He's more of a man than I could ever teach him to be," Flowers said. 

Looking back on Schaufler's life, students and staff told KEZI 9 News that he was the epitome of a dedicated student. 

"Blake was always the Good Samaritan. If he saw someone hurting, he would be there. Whether it was other students on campus or you know in his past, loving on people who needed his love, he was always that guy," Dean of Students Aaron Cordeiro said.

The search for Ponce began around noon when gunfire erupted in the Parkgrove apartments on Kinsrow Avenue. Neighbors said they heard three gunshots before police and paramedics arrived.

"I heard a boom. And I'm like, 'It's either a gunshot or a backfire, and it sounds like a gunshot.' About 30, 45 seconds later, 'boom, boom,' and then I was like, 'That's somebody shooting somebody,'" said Gabrielle Hatton, who lives at Parkgrove.

Police at the time said Ponce walked away from the scene but may have been picked up by a vehicle.

A perimeter was set up between Martin Luther King Boulevard and I-105 until around 3 p.m. In that time drones and police dogs were used in an effort to find Ponce.

Some residents said they never expected a crime like this in their area. 

"I was in my apartment reading a book and my friend David was walking when he heard the shots. And then all the sirens and the police vehicles came in immediately," said neighbor Tony Cubito. "I'm wondering, 'What's happening? Is it gang-related? Is it a drug war? What's going on?'"

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