Crime

Shootings, suicides, standoffs: Violent start to new year in Treasure Valley

Man in hospital after police shot him New Years Day morning

Police are still in the early stages of investigation, but Eugene Smith, Boise Police deputy chief of operations, speaks to media about what officers know now about the shooting on South Wild Phlox Way near Cole Road.
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Police are still in the early stages of investigation, but Eugene Smith, Boise Police deputy chief of operations, speaks to media about what officers know now about the shooting on South Wild Phlox Way near Cole Road.

Two officer-involved shootings in Boise in the first week — one less than for all of 2017. A double-homicide in Nampa. A gunshot victim left at a Caldwell hospital.

The new year got off to a crazy, violent start in the Treasure Valley.

And it hasn’t let up.

A former lawmaker under investigation for sexual abuse took his own life on Tuesday. Rep. Brandon Hixon of Caldwell was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home.

On Wednesday, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team members spent all day trying to coax an armed man out of a Caldwell business. Telling officers he wanted them to shoot him, he fired a gun through doors and walls. No one was injured.

“It’s a little bit concerning to see us start out with so many [violent] things during the new year,” said Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue. He said his command staff has talked to deputies about being extra vigilant.

“More situational awareness is really important right now,” Donahue said. “It may be the most mundane call that you’ve been on all month. That’s the call that’s not going to [end up being] mundane. We preach that, especially in these higher times of volatility.

“You’ve got so much unpredictability in society.”

The violence we’ve seen in the Valley over the past two weeks could just be a coincidence — an anomaly, said Sgt. Tim Riha, spokesman for the Nampa Police Department.

And it could be an extension of the uptick departments prepare for during the winter holidays. Donahue said in December there are more incidences of domestic violence, robberies and theft — “criminality because people are down on their luck and it spirals.”

He believes some of it may be spilling over into the new year, though he believes the uptick in violence is part of a longer trend.

“I just think we’re seeing more violent crime period, that we haven’t seen in a lot of years,” he said.

Donahue, Riha and others said the growing population in the Valley is pushing up crime rates in general, and violent crime in particular.

Officer-involved use of force, including nonlethal methods such as Taser, mace and police dog, was up 25 percent in Garden City from 2016 to 2017, said Garden City Police Chief Rick Allen.

“It’s definitely feeling more violent,” Allen said. “It’s a common theme that officers are talking about on the street.”

Suicide hotline contacts are slightly up

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline had received 397 contacts from the start of the year through Thursday afternoon, according to George Austin, hotline supervisor.

That’s about 36 contacts per day, as compared with about 30 per day in December. But Austin said he expects January to be similar to December, during which there were 932 contacts.

Suicide hotline contacts have been on the rise since it was first established in 2012. The hotline received 9,531 calls last year, double the number in 2015 (the first year the hotline started taking calls around the clock).

There isn’t typically a spike in contacts at the start of the new year, Austin said.

“Historically, January contact totals have been in line with the months surrounding it,” he said.

If you need help, call or text the hotline at 208-398-4357.

Two police shootings in one week

The new year in Boise wasn’t quiet for long.

At about 7:15 a.m. Jan. 1, police were called to a report of a suicidal man with a gun on South Wild Phlox Way, near Cole Road. When they engaged the 57-year-old man, he held one hand behind his back and did not respond to show both hands, police said.

One officer fired at the man, and he was taken to a local hospital. A knife was found at the scene, and the man was found to have what appeared to be self-inflicted knife wounds, police said.

No officers were injured in the confrontation. The man’s name has not been released. He remains hospitalized, a police spokeswoman said Friday.

Three days later, on Jan. 4, a traffic stop in Boise turned deadly when a passenger in the car brandished a handgun. Police shot the man after a brief standoff when he wouldn’t stand down. Robert Hansen, 27, died of a gunshot wound to the head, the coroner said.

Police said Hansen pointed the gun at a woman in the car and himself after the car was pulled over. Hansen had been a fugitive since August; he failed to maintain contact with his parole officer, a Idaho Department of Correction spokesman said.

In 2011, Hansen was sentenced to three to five years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injury or death, aggravated driving under the influence, and domestic assault or battery.

The Boise Police Department denied public records requests for the body cam footage from both of those shootings because those investigations are ongoing.

Double homicide in Nampa

Two young men men were found dead in a Nampa apartment on Jan. 8. Police are investigating their deaths as a double homicide.

There were four homicides in Nampa in all of 2017; Boise had two.

The victims, who both had multiple gunshot wounds, were identified as: 22-year-old Dagoberto Lopez Jr., of Nampa, and 21-year-old Esiel Jesus Oseguera, of Caldwell.

Police are following up on leads but have not said if they have identified any suspects.

Shootings, standoff in Caldwell

A man with a life-threatening gunshot wound was left by an unknown person at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell at about 6:30 a.m. Jan. 5.

The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting, which it believes may have occurred outside a house on Fish Road near Wilder.

The victim, who has not been identified, has since died, a county spokesman said Friday afternoon. Investigators now believe his wounds may have been self-inflicted, but that has not been confirmed through testing.

A few days after that incident, on Jan. 8, a 37-year-old Caldwell man was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries after a shooting in the 2600 block of south Montana Avenue.

Police identified as suspect in the shooting: Jose Antonio Mosqueda, a 21-year-old Nampa man, was later arrested at his home and charged with aggravated battery.

Then came the standoff on Jan. 10.

Jens Randall Davis of Payette took his pistol to work at Forterra Structural Precast, according to the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office. Fellow employees at Forterra called police when they became aware of the gun, and his strange behavior.

Authorities spent from 8:30 a.m. to almost 6 p.m. trying to get Davis to surrender. In addition to ongoing negotiating, they used a Taser gun, pepper gas and impact rounds to apprehend him.

Davis was treated at a local hospital before being booked into the Canyon County jail on charges of felon in possession of a firearm, grand theft by possession and aggravated assault on law enforcement.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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