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Drunk Driver Killed Four at Oregon Homeless Encampment

A man who allegedly drove into a homeless encampment in Salem, Or., had double the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, prosecutors said Monday, the Associated Press reports. Enrique Rodriguez Jr., 24, was ordered jailed without bail by a judge on Monday after being charged with four counts of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless driving and driving while under the influence of intoxicants. The 2 a.m. Sunday crash left a scene of chaos, with people trapped under the car. Two people died at the scene and two died at a hospital. After the dead and injured were taken away, flattened tents, an overturned shopping cart and a deeply scarred tree marked the scene. Mourners left bouquets of flowers at the base of a tree.

Rodriguez had 0.15% or more alcohol in his blood, according to a charging document. A blood alcohol level of 0.08%. or higher constitutes driving under the influence in Oregon. The crash happened on a small triangle of trees and grass near the Willamette River and near a new men’s shelter and a program that offers emergency housing assistance, showers, food and other services for the homeless. On March 3, the city of Salem cleared dozens of homeless people from a makeshift campsite located a block away. City officials had posted notices about the pending action, and community providers walked through the camp offering to connect them with services. A new law that takes effect next year restricts how cities and counties can deal with homeless camps. Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill to protect homeless campers in public spaces from being removed.


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