Former Tacoman shot dead in Oregon

The Register-GuardFebruary 5, 2014 

A former Tacoma man was fatally shot Jan. 26 after his SUV struck the back of another motorist’s new pickup in Springfield, Ore.

The shooter, 34-year-old Gerald Roy Strebendt, a professional mixed-martial arts fighter, has not been arrested or charged with a crime in connection with the shooting of David Paul Crofut, 53. Crofut had recently moved with his wife to Springfield from Tacoma.

After the men’s vehicles collided about 8 p.m. on a parkway in east Springfield, Strebendt called 911 to report the wreck, and an emergency dispatcher was on the line when Strebendt shot and killed Crofut, police Sgt. David Lewis said.

A Lane County, Ore., grand jury was expected to decide later this month whether Strebendt, a former pro fighter and Marine Corps sniper who owns a gym in downtown Springfield, acted in legal self-defense when he shot Crofut.

Strebendt’s attorney, Mike Arnold of Eugene, said Crofut was shot after he threatened to kill Strebendt.

“A guy running errands after getting groceries didn’t expect to be put into this situation,” Arnold said of Strebendt. “He called 911 but was forced to act in self-defense before help arrived.”

Under Oregon law, a person is not justified in using deadly force unless he or she reasonably believes another person might harm them or someone else by using deadly force, or is committing or trying to commit a burglary in a dwelling.

Police said Strebendt’s gun was the only weapon seized as part of the investigation. Officers arrived to find Crofut’s body lying in one of the parkway’s southbound traffic lanes.

Lewis said at least two witnesses told police Strebendt’s pickup and Crofut’s sport utility vehicle had been traveling on a Springfield street before both turned onto the parkway. Detectives “are trying to find out if there was any back and forth” interaction between the men before Crofut’s SUV hit the back end of Strebendt’s new pickup, Lewis said.

Strebendt was traveling alone; Crofut’s only passenger was his wife.

Nicknamed “The Finishing Machine,” Strebendt competed between 2001 and 2008 in Ultimate Fighting Championship and other professional events as a mixed-martial arts fighter.

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