PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Twelve hours before crashing into a homeless camp and killing four people, a woman saw the suspect in the deadly Salem homeless camp crash driving recklessly and called police, according to a court document.
According to a probable cause affidavit, a 73-year-old woman called police at 2:55 p.m. Saturday to report someone driving recklessly. She said the driver was spinning the vehicle’s tires as the car made a right turn from westbound Salem Parkway onto Cherry Avenue Northeast.
The woman told dispatch the driver appeared to be racing a white Subaru. She sent a picture of the vehicle to police and they confirmed it belonged to 24-year-old Enrique Rodriguez Jr., the suspect accused of crashing into a homeless camp early Sunday morning, killing four people and injuring two others.
The woman said the person driving Rodriguez’s vehicle eventually stopped behind traffic at Sam Orcutt Drive North and began spinning its tires while traffic was stopped. She said the driver almost lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the truck in front of it.
The woman told police she was concerned the driver would lose control of the vehicle and hit pedestrians walking on Cherry Street Northeast. She estimated the drivers were going faster than “freeway speeds” before they had to stop for traffic.
The suspect in Rodriguez’s vehicle was described as a young, possibly Hispanic man.
At around 2 a.m., Rodriguez was seen driving his Nissan 300ZX with California license plate 8VUT482 at a high speed north on Front Street Northeast, approaching Union Street Northeast. According to the court document, Rodriguez lost control around a curve in the road, crossed the raised center median and crashed into a homeless camp nearby.
Authorities identified those killed as Jowand Beck, 24; Luke Kagey, 21; Joe Posada III, 54; and Rochelle Zamacona, 29.
Derrick Hart, 43, and Savannah Miller, 18, were seriously injured, police said. Hart suffered broken ribs, a possibly fractured back, and an open fracture to his ankle as a result of the crash. Miller also suffered broken ribs and has four life-threatening lacerations to her liver, police said.
A witness who was at the Marion Square Skate Park told police he saw the vehicle speeding north on Front Street Northeast moments before the crash and estimated the drive was going about 70 mph. Another witness at the park also saw the car and thought it was going about 60 mph. The speed limit on that part of Front Street is 35 mph.
At the time of the crash, prosecutors said Rodriguez had a blood alcohol content of 0.26, more than three times the legal limit.
Police said when they contacted Rodriguez, he was visibly intoxicated. He had watery eyes, slurred speech, a “flush slack face,” and smelled like alcohol. Rodriguez told investigators he had four drinks before the crash.
According to the affidavit, he said “transients walked out in front of him.”
Police said at the hospital, Rodriguez was upset he could not smoke a cigarette and could not pick up his vehicle or have his cell phone.
Rodriguez was initially concerned for the victims, but police said he soon shifted to being angry about not being able to smoke or have his phone or car. Police said he was so enraged that the officer speaking to him had to step out of the room because of the names Rodriguez was calling him.
Police learned Rodriguez’s driving privileges were suspended and there was a warrant out for his arrest for a probation violation out of Lebanon Municipal Court. That charge was for a driving while suspended violation.
Rodriguez has received several citations for driving while suspended, driving uninsured and was convicted in 2017 for careless driving.
As a result of the crash that killed four people and injured two others, Rodriguez faces four counts of manslaughter, two counts of assault and six counts of reckless endangerment.
A judge denied him bail Monday. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 6.
KOIN 6 News has asked the Marion County District Attorney’s Office if an officer or deputy responded to the report of someone driving recklessly in Rodriguez’s vehicle Saturday afternoon. Deputy District Attorney Brendan Murphy responded by saying he cannot comment on the case “as it is an open criminal matter in our office.”