A driver for UPS was arrested on Thursday in connection with a series of shootings along a highway in southwest Oregon that injured one person and unnerved motorists, officials said.
The Oregon State Police identified the gunman as Kenneth Ayers, 49, of Roseburg, Oregon, a city about 70 miles south of Eugene. Police said he fired at cars from a UPS tractor-trailer on seven separate occasions starting in May.
The shootings, which were spread across three counties, ended on Thursday, one day after a woman driving on Interstate 5 was shot. She was treated at a hospital and released, police said.
Officials said they immediately found the tractor-trailer about 60 miles north of the shooting. They did not say what led them to the tractor-trailer.
“The search of the truck revealed a firearm consistent with the type used,” police said.
Police did not reveal a motive for the shootings or identify the type of firearm used in the attacks, which happened in Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties.
Ayers, who was charged with attempted murder, assault and multiple counts of unlawful use of a weapon, pleaded not guilty in a Jackson County courthouse on Friday to charges related to the Aug. 19 shooting and was ordered held on $1 million bail.
Ayers, wearing glasses and a black face mask, asked for a lawyer as he appeared in court through a live video feed.
“The only thing I had a chance to talk to was my wife,” Ayers said during the brief appearance.
A message left at a phone number listed for Ayers’ family on Saturday was not returned.
In a statement, UPS said it was cooperating with authorities.
“We are deeply concerned about these allegations,” it said. “Firearms are prohibited at UPS facilities and in our vehicles. Any further information on this matter should come from the investigating authorities.”
UPS declined to say how long Ayers had worked for the company or if he had been fired as a result of the charges.
The first shooting took place on May 12 in Josephine County and was followed by shootings on June 2, June 15, June 22, July 7, July 9 and Aug. 19. Police charged Ayers with endangering 13 people. They said several vehicles were struck.
Police said that the shootings occurred at various times of the day and that there appeared to be no pattern for when they happened.
Before May, Ayers had a UPS route that ran north of Roseburg in Douglas County. He was then assigned a route south of the city, around the time that the shootings began, police said.
“That’s incredibly scary,” Ashley Hicks, who runs a construction business with her husband in Roseburg, said in an interview on Saturday.
“It’s a terrifying thought,” Hicks said. “I am so thankful that law enforcement was able to apprehend him.”
Bob Cotterell, president of the City Council and a retired Roseburg police officer, said the shootings largely occurred about an hour south of Roseburg.
Still, he said, residents were paying more attention to motorists as they drove on Interstate 5.
“They were becoming more vigilant,” Cotterell said.
Roseburg, a city of about 24,000 people, has been hit by gun violence in the past.
President Barack Obama visited the city in 2015 after a gunman fatally shot nine people during a writing class in Umpqua Community College.
Roseburg, which was once known for its timber industry, is near the scenic waterfalls of the Umpqua National Forest and is known for its summer concerts near the South Umpqua River.
“It’s just a beautiful little city,” Hicks said. “I’ve lived here my entire life, and I made the decision to stay here and raise my daughter. It’s like paradise here.”