Oregon official: Release of suspect in deputy's killing result of 'broken' system

The man suspected of killing a university professor and then, 10 hours later, gunning down Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, had been arrested in Eugene, Ore., just two weeks earlier on drug and weapons charges but quickly released without charges.

Oregon authorities have said the do not have the staffing resources to prosecute cases such as that against Ricardo Chaney, who had been picked up while in possession of pistols, an assault-style rifle, the drug Ecstasy and body armor.

The arrest is one of many details about Chaney's past that have emerged since Del Fiorentino died in a spray of gunfire March 19 near Fort Bragg. But motivations for Chaney's crime spree, which began with a killing and armed carjacking in Eugene and ended with his own death shortly after Del Fiorentino's, remain a mystery.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Fatally Shot


Chaney, 32, the son of a respected University of Oregon anthropology professor, was pursuing a degree in computer science at Portland State University as recently as this winter. In December, he registered a company, Zero Dark Films, with the Oregon secretary of state. The company's website and Twitter account indicate that it produced pornography, information first reported by the Register-Guard in Eugene.

Chaney had a minor criminal record in Lane County, Ore., including misdemeanor convictions for escaping police custody and disorderly conduct, said Alex Gardner, Lane County district attorney.

However, Gardner said, "There was nothing in the record which would predict anything like what he's alleged to have done recently."

On March 6, Chaney was arrested in Eugene after police encountered him while searching for a stolen cellphone, according to a police report.

Chaney refused to give police permission to search the vehicle he was driving but, shortly after, police pulled him over for making an illegal left-hand turn, according to the report. The officer found that the vehicle, which Chaney said he was borrowing, was not insured. It was impounded and while officers were searching it they found a loaded handgun concealed in the glove compartment; another handgun; a loaded, modified AR-15 rifle; body armor and a ziplock bag containing Ecstacy pills.

Chaney told police he had put the handgun in the glove compartment after "shooting in the woods," according to the report. He did not give a reason for having the body armor.

None of the those weapons appear to have been used in the deadly shootout near Fort Bragg. Mendocino County sheriff's officials say their deputies found Chaney wearing a camouflage, "military style" vest and in possession of two assault rifles. They found a double-barreled shotgun in the BMW he apparently had stolen and driven from Eugene.

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