MEDFORD, Ore. — The man accused of firing at drivers along the I-5 corridor between Roseburg and Medford was a semi-truck driver for UPS traveling for his delivery route, according to Oregon State Police investigators.
OSP spokesman Captain Tim Fox said that troopers arrested 49-year-old Kenneth Ayers in connection with the shootings at 11 p.m. on Thursday, though an earlier statement said that he was taken into custody the day prior.
Troopers closed in on Ayers after the shooting north of Central Point on Wednesday night, when a local woman was injured. By that night, investigators learned that a UPS truck may have been involved.
Investigators tracked a UPS semi-truck about an hour (60 miles) north of the August 19 shooting, to the Roseburg area — allowing troopers to seize and execute a search warrant on the truck and trailer. The search found a gun "consistent with the type used" with several of the shootings.
Ayers was also located in the Roseburg area, and later booked into the Jackson County Jail.
Before the month of May, OSP said, Ayers drove a route for UPS that took him north of Roseburg, but was put onto a route south of Roseburg around the same time that the first known shooting occurred.
OSP has tied Ayers directly to seven of the shootings: May 12 in Josephine County, June 2 in Jackson County, June 15 in Douglas County, June 22 in Josephine County, July 7 in Douglas County, July 9 in Josephine County, and August 19 in Jackson County.
Investigations into other shootings are still under investigation, and OSP is looking for information from other potential incidents. Ayers' route also took him along Highways 62 and 140, and the possibility of shootings north of Roseburg prior to May has not been ruled out.
Cpt. Fox said that information on the type of firearm will not be released right now due to the ongoing investigation and pending prosecution, though court documents claim that a .45 caliber handgun was used in the Jackson County shootings. Fox said that the investigation did indicate that Ayers had been shooting from the cab of his truck while it was in motion, not stationary.
In response to an inquiry about the Ayers case, UPS issued a short statement:
“We are appalled to hear about these allegations and are fully cooperating with the responding authorities. Firearms are prohibited at UPS facilities and in our vehicles, and we are extremely concerned for the other motorists and individuals who have been affected. We’ll defer further comment to the investigating authorities.”
Oregon State Police said that UPS has been fully cooperative. The company sent for another truck to pick up the trailers that had been attached to Ayers' truck after troopers seized it for evidence.
The initial statement from OSP said that Ayers would be tried on all counts — for Jackson, Josephine, and Douglas counties — in a Jackson County court, but Fox walked that back on Friday.
"I do apologize earlier as I stated in the release that all charges will be filed in Jackson County – that may not be correct," Fox said. "However all three District Attorney’s Office are working together and OSP would like to thank them for their assistance."
Appearing in court of Friday, Ayers was arraigned on eight counts for Jackson County incidents alone; Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the Second Degree, two counts of Reckless Endangering, two counts of Criminal Mischief, and two counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Ayers' bail has been set at $1 million.