Theft Suspects Flee from Deputies (Photo)
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies arrested two men Wednesday morning in unrelated incidents. Deputies say in both cases, the suspects were believed to have been involved in stealing hemp. Both fled when confronted.
The first incident began on October 30, 2019 at 3:53 a.m. Deputies were alerted to a suspicious vehicle parked along a hemp field near the intersection of West Griffin Creek Road and Griffin Creek Road, southwest of Medford.
Deputies arrived and tried to wake a man sleeping inside the gray Dodge Durango parked partially in the roadway. He refused to exit the vehicle or identify himself and then drove off. Deputies believe another person associated with the vehicle may have been left behind in the area.
The driver, later identified as Jon Allen Firehammer, 45, of Grants Pass, fled through several rural properties, crashing through security gates and causing other property damage. Deputies used spike strips and a pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver to attempt to immobilize the vehicle.
Firehammer stopped in a private driveway and fled on foot. A JCSO K9 team tracked him for 90 minutes through several hundred feet of blackberry bushes and took him into custody. He was found to be in possession of counterfeit money. Deputies were assisted by personnel from Oregon State Police, Medford Police, Phoenix Police, and Talent Police.
Firehammer initially provided a false name. Deputies at the Jackson County jail were able to ascertain his true identity, which revealed he had multiple warrants for his arrest.
Deputies lodged Firehammer in jail on the following charges: interfering with a peace officer; attempting to elude police in a vehicle; attempting to elude police on foot; hit and run – property damage (three counts); first degree criminal mischief (three counts); first degree criminal possession of a forged instrument (two counts); reckless driving; driving while suspended (felony); giving false information to police; identity theft.
Deputies say the investigation is ongoing. The district attorney’s office will review the case for additional charges.
The second Wednesday incident began at 9:40 a.m. A deputy was driving in the 5200-block of Upton Road when his patrol vehicle and two bystanders were nearly struck by a Toyota Tacoma backing quickly out of a driveway. The deputy witnessed a confrontation between the driver and one of the bystanders, who was armed.
The driver fled north on Upton Road toward Gibbon Road. The deputy was told the driver had just been caught stealing trimmed hemp plants and was in the process of fleeing when the deputy happened by. The men who were nearly hit by the vehicle were employees who were trying to stop him.
Deputies and an Oregon State Police trooper followed in the direction of the suspect vehicle. The vehicle turned west on Gibbon Road and continued at a high rate of speed. Deputies arrived shortly after the vehicle crashed at the road’s end. The vehicle had struck a tree and overturned.
The driver, identified as Tanner Charles McNew, 27, a Medford area transient, was uncooperative and had to be removed from the vehicle by deputies. He was found to be in possession of marijuana and methamphetamine, in addition to hemp believed to have just been stolen from the Upton Road location.
Deputies transported McNew to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center for medical clearance before taking him to jail. McNew was lodged on charges of second degree theft, attempting to elude police in a vehicle, recklessly endangering another person (two charges), reckless driving, unlawful possession of marijuana, and unlawful possession of methamphetamine.
Anyone with information about either incident is asked to call the JCSO tip line at (541) 770-8333.
West Griffin Creek, Case #19-22878
Upton Road, Case #19-22890