Federal authorities are involved in the investigation of the shooting death of a Black man last month in the parking lot of an Ashland hotel, police said Thursday.
The FBI is working with Ashland police to assess whether Robert Keegan violated any federal laws in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Aidan Ellison, according to the Ashland Police Department. Keegan, 47, has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Ashland police on Thursday said the deadly encounter hasn’t been substantiated as a bias crime but that it’s “important to examine all aspects of this case and determine whether a bias crime has been committed.”
A probable cause affidavit says Keegan was awakened Nov. 23 by loud music coming from the parking lot of the Stratford Inn, where he was staying. Keegan asked Ellison to turn down the music, according to the affidavit, and Ellison refused.
Keegan got dressed, “collected his gun” and complained to a clerk about Ellison playing music in the lot, the court document says.
The clerk went to the lot to talk with Ellison. And while the clerk was talking with him, Keegan came to the lot and confronted Ellison, according to the affidavit. The two men began to argue.
Keegan claimed Ellison hit him in the face with a fist several times, according to the affidavit. Keegan said he backed up, racked a round and shot Ellison in the chest because he feared for his safety, the document says.
An autopsy, however, showed no injuries to Ellison’s hands that indicated he punched Keegan, according to the affidavit. Keegan had no visible face injuries.
The shooting drew condemnation from southern Oregon’s Black community.
“The murder of Aidan Ellison is another example of Southern Oregon’s racist history with and current practice of white supremacy,” wrote Southern Oregon Black Leaders, Activists and Community Coalition in a statement. “Aidan was murdered because he was a young Black person who made a white man uncomfortable and refused to submit to that man’s personally-perceived authority – not because he was listening to music too loudly.”
Ellison pleaded guilty Nov. 27, to second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm and recklessly endangering another person.
Keegan is being held in custody without bail until his next court date on Feb. 22, officials have said.
— Jim Ryan