Ashland, Oregon police continue to investigate whether race played a role in the shooting of 19-year-old Aidan Ellison.
Ellison, who was Black, was shot and killed by Robert Paul Keegan, who is white, after the two got into an argument over Ellison playing loud music in the parking lot of the Stratford Inn Hotel.
According to Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara, the two got into an argument about the volume of Ellison’s music around 4 a.m. At some point during the argument, Keegan pulled a gun from his coat and fired a single shot, striking Ellison in the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Keegan was arrested at the scene and charged with both murder and illegal possession of a firearm.
“The blame for the incident is entirely on Robert Keegan, he is 100% responsible for it,” O’Meara said. “He’s the one who chose to bring a gun into the situation.”
“Any suggestion of self-defense was quickly swept away. There’s no way this should have happened,” said O’Meara.
Keegan was indicted on November 24 for charges including second degree murder, first degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm, and recklessly endangering another person.
He pleaded not guilty to all four charges on Friday.
The shooting of the Black teen resulted in calls against racism from the community, which O’Meara said was “valid.”
“I understand that there are legitimate tensions surrounding matters of violence against people of color in the US, and this situation speaks directly to that,” O’Meara said.
“I want to do whatever I can with the police department to navigate our marginalized community member relationships and find a way through this.”
Chief O’Meara said while Keegan isn’t being charged with a hate crime right now, it’s not something that can be ruled out, so early in the investigation.
“He has not been charged with ethnic intimidation, but if we come across information that substantiates that claim that we will work with the DA’s office to bring that appropriate charge,” said O’Meara.
Keegan is currently being held in the Jackson County Jail without bail and is set to appear in court on February 21, 2021.