Bear hunter charged in Marine's shooting death

SALEM, Ore. - A bear hunter who shot a Marine dead in the mountains near Silver Creek Falls State Park now faces one count of criminally negligent homicide.

The Marion County Grand Jury convened to review the investigation of the Oct. 25 shooting death of Christopher Ochoa on Monday.

The Grand Jury indicted Eugene Irvin Collier, 67, of Turner, Ore., on one count of Criminally Negligent Homicide.

According to Oregon Revised Statute, "A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide when, with criminal negligence, the person causes the death of another person."

Investigators said Ochoa was a Marine Corps Reservist from French Camp, Calif., who was due back for active duty the same day.

Ochoa and Raymond Westrom, 53, of Lathrop, Calif., were hiking in a field headed for Silver Creek Falls.

Both men wore dark clothing.

Collier was hunting with his 12-year-old grandson.

Below are press releases from Marion County on the case

News Release from: Marion Co. Sheriff's Office
Posted: November 15th, 2011 4:00 PM


On Monday, November 14th, the Marion County Grand Jury was convened to review the investigation of the October 25th shooting death of Christopher Ochoa.

The Grand Jury indicted Eugene Irvin Collier, 67, of Turner, on one count of Criminally Negligent Homicide. 

Mr. Collier is scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday, November 22, 2011, at 1:30 p.m. at the Marion County Court Annex, 4000 Aumsville Hwy, Salem, Oregon.

Criminally Negligent Homicide is a Class B felony and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

There are currently no photos of Collier available for the media.

Further questions about the status of this case should be referred to Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Underwood at 503.588.5222 or

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The shooting investigation continued through the night. 

Deputies Andrew Dershon and Jason Hickam were first to arrive on the scene. Raymond Westrom, 53, of Lathrop, California, contacted the deputies and directed them to the victim.  Both deputies administered first aid until medics arrived, but the victim died at the scene.

The investigation was turned over to Marion County Detective Matt Wilkinson.  

The victim is identified as Christopher A. Ochoa, 20, from French Camp, California.  Wilkinson's preliminary investigation revealed that Ochoa was hiking through the field with his friend, Westrom.  They were headed to see the Silver Creek Falls. Both were wearing dark clothing; they were not hunting as previously reported.

At the same time, Gene Collier, 67, of Turner, and his 12-year old grandson were hunting for bear on the property.  Collier told Detective Wilkinson that he saw what he thought was a bear, moving in the brush.  He fired one shot from his .270 caliber-hunting rifle.  The shot struck Ochoa.

Collier fully cooperated with detectives.  There was no indication of impairment due to alcohol or drugs.  The grandson was some distance from the shooting when it occurred and is not considered a witness.

Ochoa's family in California has been notified of his death.

They advised that Ochoa and Westrom had come to Salem to do some work on a house.  Ochoa was an active Marine Corp Reservist who was due to report back for duty on October 25th.

The shooting death appears to be non-intentional, but the investigation will be turned over to the Marion County District Attorney's Office for review.  They will decide if Collier will be charged with any crimes.

We have no crime scene photos for the media.  Collier has requested no media contact at this time; he is dealing with the emotion of this incident.

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Marion County Sheriff's Office Deputies and Detectives are currently at the scene of a shooting that occurred in the mountains near Silver Creek Falls Park, earlier this evening.

911 Dispatchers received a call at 6:24pm, reporting shots fired in the 6300 block of Silver Ridge Road SE.  This rural area is about 1 mile west of Silver Falls State Park, near Sublimity.

Initial reports were that a male, who was hunting in the area, had been shot.  Deputies located the victim around 6:40pm.  He was deceased.  No information is currently available as to his identity or age.  The Medical Examiner's Office has been requested to respond to the scene to assist with the investigation.

Deputies are interviewing several others who were hunting in the area, and all parties believed involved in this incident are accounted for. 

Previous reports that a vehicle was seen leaving the area of the shooting are unfounded.

There is currently no media access to the area due the darkness and the need to protect the scene until the investigation is complete.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.