Confusion surrounds SOU movie shoot incident

    The investigation into a Southern Oregon University movie shoot that drew police last week is proceeding slowly and officials said Friday they are unsure which professors were involved in the incident.

    Seven officers — the entire on-duty Ashland police force — responded to a report that two armed suspects had entered an SOU building on Feb. 5, only to learn later that the incident was part of a class movie shoot.

    Sylvia Kelley, vice president of development at SOU, initially said the incident was part of a film shoot for the Video Productions class taught by Howard Schreiber, a senior instructor in the communications department.

    But SOU spokesman Jim Beaver said Friday afternoon that some university officials believe the movie shoot was actually part of an assignment for an art class. Beaver said he didn't know the name of the class or which professor taught it.

    "Somebody knows, I just haven't found out who they are yet," he said. "We're not in a rush to get to the bottom of this right now."

    SOU officials have also instructed Schreiber not to speak to the media, he said in an e-mail message.

    "I'd love to talk to you, however, I've been instructed to refer all inquires to Media Director Jim Beaver," he said.

    Beaver said he would arrange an interview with Schreiber and a Daily Tidings reporter after university officials had spoken with Schreiber and "sorted out everything that happened that day."

    Beaver said the investigation into the incident has proceeded slowly because few SOU faculty members are on campus, due to academic finals this week.

    "It may seem unusual to you," he said, "but no one is here to do an investigation right now. It's break time."

    The university's two-week spring break begins Sunday, so the investigation into the incident likely won't be completed until next month, Beaver said.

    "We're not going to be making any big decisions until April," he said. "I don't know that there will be any big decision."

    It seems likely the no professors or students will be disciplined due to the incident, Beaver said.

    "There seems to be so much confusion about it, it's hard to believe there's going to be a personnel issue," he said. "It seems like there might be some new policy that comes out of this."

    The movie shoot incident, which taxed police resources for about an hour, was dangerous because officers didn't know if the guns the students were carrying were real, said Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness.

    "One of the sergeants on scene is an 18-year veteran and a trained firearms expert who spent much of his career in Detroit, so he knows what weapons look like, and he was adamant that those weapons looked authentic," he said.

    The students were filming an armed robbery scene inside the Rogue Valley Television station, using black ski masks and a fake Uzi submachine gun and sawed-off shotgun.

    The professors or students involved should have notified police and campus public safety officials about the movie shoot and posted large signs around the RVTV building that read, "movie shoot in progress," Holderness said.

    Police didn't write up a report on the incident, because there was no crime involved, he said.

    However, Holderness spoke with SOU officials this week to relay his concerns about the incident.

    "I was assured that the issue was being dealt with and we should not have to worry about reoccurrences," he said.

    Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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