A Salem man started a shootout with police officers on Sept. 29 and fled in a minivan that had stopped nearby before a deputy fatally shot the driver of the van, according to an Oregon State Police affidavit.
A Polk County grand jury on Thursday, Oct. 19, indicted Jose M. Corral-Zavala, 21, of Salem, on 22 charges including eight counts of attempted aggravated murder and second-degree manslaughter, the indictment showed.
Police found the driver of the minivan, 18-year-old Isaac I. Oceguedo of Carlton, dead in the vehicle after it crashed into a west Salem house.
A grand jury has unanimously found that Polk County sheriff’s deputy Michael Smith was justified in shooting at the suspects, Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton announced in a news release on Friday, Oct. 20. Smith was shot in the ankle during the gunfight.
Oceguedo died of a single gunshot wound through his back into his chest, according to the police affidavit.
Grand jurors heard testimony from police officers, the state Medical Examiner’s Office and several citizen witnesses.
State police provided the following account of the shootout.
An officer of the Independence Police Department tried to pull over the driver of a black BMW for a traffic stop around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 29 when the suspect fled. Police have not said what prompted the stop.
Police pursued the driver, who was heading north on Highway 51 toward Highway 22.
A deputy staged near milepost 1 with spike strips, and “had a successful spike on the suspect vehicle,” according to the police affidavit. Officers then lost sight of the vehicle on Highway 22.
Deputies later found the BMW crashed into a dirt area on the north side of the highway near milepost 23 next to a private drive. The suspect had fled on foot.
An officer heard Smith yell from down the road where he was staged, “show me your hands.” Officers then heard shots fired and took cover behind patrol cars as bullets flew by their heads.
Before the shooting began, officers noticed a gold minivan slowly driving east toward them with high beams on and horn honking before taking off past them. The driver at some point turned around and headed east back toward Salem.
The van then stopped in the eastbound traffic lane near Smith, who reported the suspect was shooting at him while running toward the van.
Smith later told investigators that while he was standing outside his car, he heard the sound of branches breaking. He shined his light on “a dark circle which looked abnormal” and saw a person wearing a black sweatshirt stand up.
The deputy walked into the center median while telling the person to come out with their hands visible. “The suspect walked down the steep embankment slowly and appeared to be giving up,” the affidavit said.
Smith was looking at vehicle traffic to avoid getting hit when he heard gunfire. As the deputy ran from the gunfire at an angle, the man ran toward the minivan that had stopped.
Smith shot back at the man, who was continuously firing at him while running to the van. “The rounds from the suspect were all in the direction of Deputy Smith and the five law enforcement officers behind him,” according to the report.
The deputy was shot in the ankle. Meanwhile, the man ran around the passenger side and fled the scene in the minivan.
An ambulance was coincidentally driving westbound when officers flagged it down. Smith was taken to Salem Hospital.
Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton said later that day that Smith was recovering “in stable condition with non life threatening injuries.”
Two Salem police officers pursued the minivan until it crashed into a house on Northwest Stoneway Drive, severely damaging the home.
The suspect was sitting in the front passenger seat and did not comply with officers.
A girl seated behind the driver exited the vehicle with injuries from the crash and a bullet wound to her left leg. She was also taken to Salem Hospital.
After several hours, police arrested Corral-Zavala and learned that the driver of the minivan, who they identified as Oceguedo, was dead.
Investigators learned that Corral-Zavala “accelerated and steered the van away from the shooting after the original driver was unresponsive,” according to the report.
Police found a high-capacity, drum-style magazine and a tan pistol on the floorboard of the front passenger seat where Corral-Zavala was sitting.
Corral-Zavala is scheduled to be arraigned on the 22-count indictment Monday, Oct. 23, at 1:30 p.m. in Polk County Circuit Court. A jury trial was scheduled for Dec. 5, court records showed as of Friday.
Corral-Zavala previously pleaded guilty in April 2021 to fleeing police, reckless driving and unlawful possession of a firearm, according to court documents.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.