Michael Piete and his uncle, Kenneth Gilliland, had hunted deer together and with other relatives for years from a remote log cabin in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon.
Their last hunting trip ended with them both being shot dead. Authorities said Piete’s 14-year-old foster son shot them both, then ran off, but came back after accidentally shooting himself in the leg. Another of the hunting party held him at gunpoint and taped him to a chair until deputies arrived.
"I am just shocked," Homer Gentry, Piete’s former stepfather, said Friday from his home in Baker City, Ore., upon learning of the Wednesday night shootings. Gentry said he hunted for years with both men, as well as the owner of the cabin, Gilliland’s brother, Bill, the owner of a gas station and tire store on the coast. Gentry said he did not know the boy.
Piete, 43, grew up in Baker City, was married, and for a time worked on a state road crew, said Gentry, a retired school bus driver and mechanic for the Baker City schools. More recently Piete had been living on Gilliland’s ranch outside Baker City. Gilliland, 64, did home repair and rented out the ranch for grazing.
Photos of the cabin, located outside the tiny town of Granite, were released by the Grant County sheriff’s Office on Friday. They show a one-room log structure. There is a wood stove for heat, soft drinks are piled outside on a table on the porch to keep them cold, and camouflage clothing hangs from the stairs leading to a loft. Shoes are strewn on the floor. The cabin stands on an unpaved road surrounded by fir and pine trees.
A piece of clothing soaked in dark red blood lies crumpled on the floor near a bolt-action rifle with a telescopic sight, the bolt open.
Hunting camp is a time-honored fall tradition in rural areas of the Northwest. Kids skip school to learn hunting skills from their parents and grandparents.
When the timber industry dominated the rural economy, sawmills would shut down for a week to let workers have time to bag a buck that would help feed their family through the winter.
There was no immediate word on a motive or possible charges against the teen. Sheriff Glenn Palmer said he filled out a probable cause affidavit, listing two counts each of homicide and unlawful use of a firearm. He said the boy was expected to recover from the gunshot wound.
Authorities were not saying just what happened at the cabin.
One victim was shot inside the cabin, another outside, and a rifle and pistol were involved, but the gun visible in the photograph was not involved, Palmer said. The shooting did not appear to be alcohol-related.