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Authorities Apprehend Man Plotting to Kill Rock Climbers at Smith Rock, Oregon

A day before the Smith Rock Craggin Classic, law enforcement arrested a man with two handguns and an AR-15 on his way to the event.

smith rockA climber in Smith Rock, Ore., where police caught a man intending a "violent attack"; (photo/Shutterstock)
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A 39-year-old Portland, Ore., man was arrested last week for an alleged plan to kill rock climbers.

He was planning a “violent attack” to shoot climbers at the annual Craggin’ Classic event in Oregon’s Smith Rock, according to authorities. Police arrested him last Thursday — just one day before the climbing festival began last weekend.

Samson Zebturiah Garner was charged on Saturday with multiple felonies, including two counts of attempted murder, attempted assault, and unlawful use of a weapon, according to a press release from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Law enforcement found a Beretta 9mm handgun, a Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, and an AR-15 from Garner when he was arrested, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported. Court documents list Garner’s potential victims as “belayer” and “spectator,” according to OPB.

On Wednesday, police warned the American Alpine Club, which hosts the event, and later arrested Garner, who had driven about three hours to the event site in central Oregon.

“We are grateful to the law enforcement agencies for their efforts and support during this incident,” the American Alpine Club said in a statement on Instagram.

According to OPB, Garner has worked as an IT professional and was a climber himself. He was a member of Mazamas, an educational mountaineering nonprofit. Rebekah Phillips, executive director of Mazamas, told NewsChannel 21, “Garner’s activity within the Mazamas was extremely limited in recent years.”

According to the Gun Violence Archive, the U.S. has seen more than 500 mass shootings so far in 2023. They’ve become increasingly common over the last 20 years, The Hill reported.

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