Officer in VA shooting identified

The Veterans Affairs police officer who wounded a knife-wielding Army veteran at the department's White City clinics last month was Marvin Seifert, a 17-year veteran with the department, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office has confirmed.

The DA released Seifert's name today after a public records request last week by the Mail Tribune.

Seifert, who previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard, was found by a grand jury Thursday to be justified in using lethal force against Gilbert Matthew "Matt" Negrete, who brandished a knife at the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics the morning of Jan. 25. The DA's office withheld Seifert's name at the time because of a threatening phone call VA police received.

An internal review determined the threat was isolated and not a credible danger to officers, the DA's office said.

The VA police chief was not available this afternoon. SORCC spokeswoman Rhonda Haney referred questions about the shooting to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Negrete had come to the clinic with his father to receive treatment for mental illness but allegedly engaged in violent, tumultuous and threatening behavior, menacing Seifer and another man with a knife, according to the DA and court documents.

VA police attempted to stop Negrete using pepper spray before Seifert resorted to lethal force, according to sheriff's Sgt. Julie Denney.

"They don't carry Tasers," Denney said.

Negrete was shot in the upper chest and transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries and later released into police custody. He remains in the Jackson County Jail on $250,000 bail.

Negrete's father, also named Gilbert Negrete, criticized the fact that VA police aren't equipped with stun guns, which he was told was because of medical equipment at the facility.

"The pepper spray didn't stop him," Negrete's father said. "They teach them in the Army how to fight through that."

Negrete entered not-guilty pleas last week on charges of felony attempted first-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon, along with misdemeanor counts of menacing and second-degree disorderly conduct.

Alyss Maio, Negrete's estranged wife, said that Negrete is able to make phone calls from the jail to talk to his children. Today is his youngest daughter's fourth birthday.

"He calls every day and talks to our daughters," Maio said.

Maio said that Negrete told her he's having difficulty sleeping, but is otherwise recovering from his gunshot wound. She's heard from a sheriff's detective investigating the case that Negrete is recovering from his injury remarkably quickly.

"He got pretty lucky," Maio said.

Over the two weeks since the shooting, she said she's heard from strangers around the country wanting to help. One just today provided her with a hotline to reach the president's office. Negrete's brothers-in-arms have added funds to his commissary.

She's also heard from strangers stories of veterans with mental health issues attacking police officers.

"The situation that Matthew is in is not uncommon," Maio said.

Negrete's lawyers are considering the county's Mental Health Court for Negrete, Maio said.  The program seeks to divert qualifying defendants with mental illness from the criminal justice system, allowing participants to have cases dismissed if they complete mental health programs. (Corrected)

Negrete will need to undergo a psychological evaluation at the State Hospital in Salem, she said.

Nothing has been filed in Negrete's case about a transfer, but a pre-trial conference is set for Feb. 12, court records show.

Maio said veterans outreach group Team RWB, based out of Florida, is assisting in the case, and that with more experienced players on board she's beginning to "take a step back." Negrete has local support in the form of his father and a girlfriend, she said.

"My presence is just online and trying to support from this side," Maio said, promoting Team RWB and the veterans caregiver-focused organization Healing Household 6.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.


Correction: an earlier online version of the story incorrectly said that Maio had been in contact with Senior Deputy District Attorney Laura Cromwell, prosecuting Negrete's case. Cromwell said she has not been in touch with Maio, and they have not discussed Mental Health court.

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