Eugene police officer killed in accidental shooting

Eugene police officer killed in accidental shooting »Play Video
Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Webber, 44, of Eugene died at the Izaak Walton League of America shooting range south of Eugene as the result of an accidental shooting.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. Friday, February 11, 2011

EUGENE, Ore. - A Eugene police officer died after a hunting rifle he was unloading from a vehicle fired, hitting him with a single shot.

Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Webber, 44, of Eugene died Friday morning at the Izaak Walton League of America shooting range south of Eugene.

"We lost a very special respect and well-loved member of our police department today," Chief Pete Kerns said. "Sgt. Jerry Webber is known to us as a man of integrity with a strong sense of duty, service and honor."

The shooting happened around 11:03 a.m., as Webber unloaded a rifle from the back of his vehicle, the sheriff's office said, when the gun detonated a single shot.

Officers who knew Sgt. Webber told KVAL News that he was a member of the SWAT team and worked vice-narcotics and internal affairs. Aside from representing the City of Eugene as an Honor Guard, he lectured at local high schools and the University of Oregon.

The veteran sergeant was hired by the Eugene Police Department as an officer June 20, 1994 and sworn in November 4, that same year. Webber was promoted to Police Sergeant September 21, 2003, most recently serving the position of Patrol Sergeant.

Melinda McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the Eugene Police, described Webber as a funny man with a great sense of humor and the ability to explain things very articulately.

The Lane County Sheriff's Department is spearheading the investigation, which so far indicates the shooting was an accident.

Gary Thomsen, president of the Izaak Walton League, told KVAL News that this was the first fatal accident at the range since it opened in the 1950s.

"It's a tragic situation, especially somebody who is familiar with firearms. It was just sad," John Gross, a board member for the league, also told KVAL News. "We've a group that tries to promote firearm safety."

A moment of silence will be held honoring Webber at the Izaak Walton Shooting Range at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Eugene Police say a formal memorial has yet to be set.