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They say those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it: Eight years to the day after 17-year-old Jordan Davis was shot and killed after listening to loud music with his friends, another Black teen met the same fate during a similar argument with a white man.
Though police didn’t reveal his name, the victim was later identified as 19-year-old Aidan Ellison, according to The Oregonian.
The young Black man was fatally wounded by Robert Paul Keegan, a 47-year-old Oregon man, in the parking lot of a Stratford Inn in Ashland in the early hours of November 23. The two had argued over the volume of music playing in Ellison’s car in the parking lot, according to police. Keegan has since been charged with murder.
Keegan, who is originally from Talent, Oregon, had been staying at the inn with his family after being displaced by the Almeda wildfires in September, an Ashland City Administrator told VICE News. Ellison was also staying at the inn at the time of the shooting. Sometime after the back and forth, the suspect pulled a gun from his coat and fired a single shot at the victim’s chest, according to police.
Police say they received a call about the shooting around 4:20 am local time and that the teen was already deceased when they arrived on the scene. Keegan, who was still at the scene of the shooting when authorities arrived, was arrested. Police say Keegan and the teen did not know each other prior to the argument and that an investigation into the shooting is still ongoing.
Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara did not mince words as to who’s to blame for the deadly encounter.
“The only thing that caused this murder was [the] suspect’s actions, 100%,” he said in a Facebook post last Thursday. “Yes, there was an argument over music. No, this did not happen because of loud music. It happened because the suspect chose to bring a gun with him and chose to use it. [It is] 100% on him, not the poor young man that was murdered.”
Jim Tumpane, the owner of the Stratford Inn, also shared his condolences with Ellison’s family and loved ones four days after the tragic shooting.
“Our hearts grieve for his family and friends,” Tumpane said in a Facebook post. “We appreciate the vigils that have been coordinated. Please come and take a moment to leave a candle at the vigil site in our parking lot in honor of Aidan. We also welcome and greatly encourage the posting of ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs on our property.”
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who is currently representing the families of Black men and women killed by law enforcement, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, took to Twitter to express his frustration with the shooting.
“Aidan Ellison should be alive today but Robert Keegan fatally shot him over ‘loud music’—BUT this was NOT about music,” he wrote in a thread about Ellison’s death. “That’s false justification for killing a Black teen!”
He questioned why Keegan was not charged with a hate crime in Ellison’s death. He also pointed out Oregon is not a stand your ground state but does not require armed citizens with a duty to retreat.
Keegan will face second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, reckless endangering, and unlawful possession of a weapon, according to Ashland police. Keegan “had a handgun unlawfully concealed on him,” Chief O’Meara told VICE News.
Keegan has already pleaded not guilty and is being held at the Jackson County Jail without bail. He’s expected to make his first court appearance on February 21, 2021.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support Ellison’s mother. Close friends of the slain teenager have also begun selling hoodies on Etsy in Ellison’s memory, the profits of which will also go towards Ellison’s mother, according to NBC Oregon affiliate KOBI-5.
The fatal shooting in Ashland not only bears a striking resemblance to the shooting of Davis in Jacksonville, Florida, it also occurred exactly eight years to the day the young Black teen lost his life. On Nov. 23, 2012, Davis was shot by then 45-year-old Michael Dunn, a white man, after the two argued over loud music at a gas station. Three other teenagers were in the car that Dunn fired at, but Dunn only hit Davis, in his legs, lungs, and heart.
In 2014, Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.