STEP Hatchery Break-In Arrest, Gardiner, April 26

Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Office release – GARDINER, Ore. – A Gardiner man has been arrested in a burglary of the Gardiner, Reedsport, and Winchester Bay (GRWB) Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP) hatchery. The investigation began on Monday, April 22, 2024, when deputies were alerted that someone had forcibly made entry into the hatchery building. Once inside, the suspect had poured a chemical substance into one of the rearing ponds causing the death of approximately 15,000-20,000 smolt chinook salmon. Deputies processed the scene and began conducting a follow up investigation. On Tuesday, April 23, 2024, around 6:30 p.m., a deputy patrolling the area observed a male walking south along Highway 101 near milepost 210. A short time later the deputy walked into the hatchery and observed that same male behind the locked gate and no trespassing signs. The male, identified as 22-year-old Gardiner resident Joshua Alexander Heckathorn, was contacted and interviewed by the deputy. During the interview, Heckathorn admitted to trespassing on the property and entering a storage location and handling the chemical bottle on Monday. Deputies arrested Heckathorn and lodged him at the Douglas County Jail on charges of Burglary II, Criminal Trespass and Criminal Mischief. Due to the number of smolt chinook salmon that were killed in the incident, the Sheriff’s Office is collaborating with the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife unit on the case. “Solving this case is the result of collaboration and good policework,” Sheriff John Hanlin remarked. “I am proud of the work done by the deputies and have full confidence that the investigation will aid in holding those responsible accountable for their actions.” The Sheriff’s Office was also assisted by the Reedsport Police Department.

The post STEP Hatchery Break-In Arrest, Gardiner, April 26 appeared first on Community Plus.


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