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August 23, 2014
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Dillard man in beach shooting suffered from mental illness

A Dillard man who murdered his father, then went on a shooting spree at Bastendorff Beach near Charleston, killing another man and himself, left behind notes saying he suffered from mental illness his entire life.

A small notebook found in Zachary Levi Brimhall’s vehicle had two apparent suicide notes. Neither was dated, according to a 35-page report released Friday by the Coos County District Attorney’s Office.

In the first note, Brimhall, 32, wrote that he originally typed up 50 pages on his laptop, explaining his motives, but that he deleted it because the reasons were “irrelevant.”

“The only thing that is relevant, however, is that I’m mentally ill, and have been my entire life,” the note reads.

In a second note, Brimhall confesses to killing his father, William “Ray” Brimhall, 58, of Dillard, and asks that someone care for his mother.

Investigators say they have been unable to find a motive for the shooting and murder-suicide. A toxicology report on Zachary Brimhall’s body is pending.

Zachary Brimhall shot his father multiple times in the chest and head with a handgun Monday night. The elder man was found dead Tuesday near his vehicle on Middle Creek Access Road, about 50 miles from Bastendorff Beach, Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said.

Investigators believe he lured his father to the site by telling him his car wouldn’t start.

Authorities think Zachary Brimhall then drove to the beach and several hours later started shooting.

Deputies responding discovered at least five vehicles had been shot, and a man, later identified as David Jesse Hortman, 43, of Walker, Michigan, was dead inside one of them in a parking lot at the south jetty. Hortman had been shot while sleeping in his vehicle.

Frasier said Zachary Brimhall was found dead a short time later inside his vehicle from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It is obvious that Zachary Brimhall was angry at his father for some reason ... We do not know the cause of this anger,” Frasier said.

His mother, Patricia Brimhall, told investigators there were no problems between her son and husband. She said she knew no reason why her son would want to kill his father, himself or anyone else.

Zachary Brimhall didn’t have a criminal record and held a valid concealed handgun license issued by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. He and his father legally owned several firearms.

Patricia Brimhall said she considered her son to be “a normal child and adult,” but said she felt at times he was depressed.

Her son wasn’t under the care of a doctor and was never diagnosed or prescribed medications for a mental illness, she said. He also had no history of drug or alcohol abuse.

His mother described him as being a private person with few friends. She said she didn’t think he ever had a girlfriend.

Zachary Brimhall previously worked for Roseburg Forest Products in Dillard. He was unemployed at the time of the incident, however.

He reportedly told family members he decided to move to Alaska and was scheduled to leave Tuesday or Wednesday. He had moved out of a rental trailer near his parents’ home, packed up his belongings and moved in with them, Frasier said.

He told his family he didn’t want to take the ammunition he’d accumulated for his firearms to Alaska. Relatives reported they decided to have at least two outings, which included target practice, so they could use as much ammunition as possible before he left.

On Sunday, the family drove to the Eden Valley area near Powers for a picnic and target shooting.

Patricia Brimhall told police her son had an old laptop he didn’t want to keep, so he used it for target practice and shot it several times. He brought the computer home and tossed it in the trash, she said.

The next day, the family traveled to Middle Creek Access Road to again picnic and shoot targets. Zachary Brimhall had driven his own vehicle, an AMC Pacer station wagon, to the site.

His mother said he decided to camp there and set up a tent, while the rest of the family returned home.

She told police there were no signs of problems at either family outing.

Frasier said Zachary Brimhall called his father at about 8:45 p.m. and said his car wouldn’t start. Ray Brimhall agreed to drive to the site to help.

Investigators say they are unsure when Ray Brimhall arrived at the Middle Creek area but said he likely arrived around 10 p.m.

They believe he was shot eight or nine times outside his vehicle by two different handguns and that his son then hid his body under a tent.

Shortly after 1 a.m., the Coos County Sheriff’s Office received several 911 calls of multiple gun shots heard at Bastendorff Beach.

The first deputy arrived on scene around 1:30 a.m. and located Zachary Brimhall’s vehicle about five minutes later.

A search of the vehicle turned up the notebooks, firearms and bomb-making materials. The Oregon State Police Bomb squad responded.

Investigators determined Zachary Brimhall had 10 firearms in his possession and ammunition.

Frasier said it took authorities longer to identify Hortman because his identification wasn’t immediately available.

They later determined Hortman, a representative of an RV supply company, had been in Oregon for a show and decided to extend his stay to take a week of vacation on the Oregon coast, Frasier said.

Authorities found Ray Brimhall’s vehicle and body later that day.

• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and jprokop@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated Aug 23, 2014 01:02AM Published Aug 25, 2014 12:04PM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.