Molalla Mayor Scott Keyser claims he was acting in self-defense when he aimed a firearm at a fast-approaching vehicle at the Molalla Buckeroo Saturday, where he was assisting evacuees from the wildfires around Milo McIver State Park in Estacada and other areas.
In a public video posted to Facebook Monday, Keyser told his side of the story, saying the car appeared to be accelerating toward him and another elected official, Molalla City Councilor Eric Vermillion, at a high rate of speed, and both men believed they were in danger.
“This isn’t any big secret,” Keyser said in the video. “It is being investigated by the Clackamas County sheriff. I don’t have anything to hide. I have a witness, another city councilor who was with me. We both felt our lives were in danger, and I took action.”
Keyser said he was working with the nonprofit organization Molalla Cares to assist wildfire evacuees and their livestock, who were relocated to the Buckeroo grounds Friday and Saturday.
At approximately 9 p.m. Saturday, Keyser and Vermillion were monitoring one of the gates when they heard several loud noises from a different part of the property.
“Some big kabooms,” the mayor recounted on video.
He then reported seeing a vehicle come down a side ramp and into the arena, which was closed to vehicle traffic due to animals being housed there, then proceed toward him and Vermillion.
“I heard the crew that was watching the upper gate scream, ‘Stop that car!” Keyser recalled. “I put my hands up, yelled ‘Stop,’ and that vehicle accelerated to hit me.
“At that point, I drew my sidearm, and for those of you who don’t understand that, I pulled my gun … and I aimed it at the driver’s side windshield of that car because I felt that vehicle was going to run me over.”
The vehicle stopped within arm’s reach, Keyser said, and he tried to talk to the people inside, a woman and a man who said he was a Molalla Buckeroo officer.
Sources have confirmed to the Current that the driver was Chuck Fammatre, a longtime board member and vice president of the Molalla Buckeroo and a local veterinarian.
Keyser said the man was agitated, alleged they had broken into the property and that “there was no arguing with him,” so he walked away and called the police to report what he had done.
Molalla Police responded and ultimately turned the scene over to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to investigate. Keyser said CCSO questioned him and took photos of his guns.
Deputies also spoke with the president of the Molalla Buckeroo, who asked that Keyser be removed from the property, which he said he complied with.
Keyser, who declined to comment or respond to media questions about the incident, said he made the video to “be transparent.”
“I’m not going to hide, OK? I did what I did,” he said. “However the investigation turns out is how it turns out. If they say I did something wrong, I will pay the price. I will man up and I will do whatever I need to do. But I knew that night, I’m going to go home alive.”
Keyser said he believed Fammatre, whom he had not previously met, had a “coming to Jesus moment.”
“I hope he learned his lesson,” Keyser said. “He had plenty of time to stop. I was standing out there with the reflective vest that I wear every day at work. There were lights on. He could see me. He made the choice to rev the throttle and accelerate toward me. He decided to stop when I aimed a gun at him.”
Keyser, who is in his first term as mayor, also said he would not resign.
“If somebody wants this spot, you come and get it,” he said. “You can go after me, you can make a recall. You come get me. I’m real good with that. … One thing I will not do is jeopardize my integrity. I will not back down and be a wimp. I’m going to be me.”
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday confirmed that it is actively investigating the incident but declined to comment or answer questions. Requests for comment from the Molalla Buckeroo Monday and Tuesday have not yet been returned.
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