BEND, Oregon – A man was taken into custody by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly planning a violent attack in the county, with suspicions that the target could have been a major rock climbing event at Smith Rock State Park. The suspect, Samson Garner, 39, now faces multiple charges, including attempted murder, attempted assault, and firearms charges.
Last Tuesday, the Portland Police Bureau alerted the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office about a potential threat, leading to Garner’s arrest on Thursday morning. Law enforcement authorities reportedly discovered multiple weapons, including an AR-15 rifle, in Garner’s car.
According to court documents, the names of “Belayer 1” and “Belayer 2”, referencing individuals who hold safety ropes for climbers, as well as “Spectator 1” and “Spectator 2” were listed among the targeted individuals. A Portland-based nonprofit mountaineering organization Mazamas confirmed that Garner was previously an active member.
There was speculation that the planned attack might have been intended for the Craggin’ Classic at Smith Rock, held last weekend, but authorities did not confirm this. The motive behind the alleged plot remains unclear.
The American Alpine Club, which organizes the Craggin’ Classic, released a statement acknowledging that they had been made aware of a potential threat. Similarly, the Smith Rock State Park Manager, Matt Davey, stated that DCSO had warned of a potential threat to public safety at the climbing festival.
Garner is scheduled to appear in court on Friday to face the charges against him. Authorities are continuing to investigate the case and gather further information to understand the motives and potential implications of the alleged plot.