April 22, 2010
By Anita Burke
MEDFORD Family, friends and a west Medford neighborhood mourn a murder-suicide that left a man and woman dead on Monday.
Gregory Alan Phillips, 57, shot his former girlfriend, Evalina Maria Lattoure, 39, three times in the head and neck with a .22-caliber revolver before fatally shooting himself, Medford police said. The shootings happened at about 2:20 p.m. Monday in the driveway of a duplex at 725 Beekman Ave., where the two, along with other roommates including Lattoure's 9-year-old daughter and the girl's father, were moving.
The group had lived just down the street in a house that was foreclosed in January and they had just been evicted, Jackson County Circuit Court records show.
"They were very nice people," said Dustin Wilhelmi, who lives in the adjoining unit of the duplex and saw Phillips shoot himself. "I don't know why he would do that to her."
Lattoure's 17-year-old son, who lives with other relatives in Jackson County and asked that his name not be published, said Phillips "took the life of a great and wonderful woman."
He said his mother also has a 22-year-old son who lives in California, as well as a sister and other relatives who were gathering to plan a funeral.
The family had known Phillips for years. They said he took numerous medications, including antidepressants and pain medications while he waited for hip-replacement surgery.
"Maybe he wasn't in his right mind when he did this," Lattoure's teenage son said, wondering compassionately what the loss must be like for Phillips' aging mother in California, who must now deal with the knowledge that her son is a murderer.
Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said that Lattoure and Phillips had argued earlier in the day, but each had left, apparently to cool down separately. Investigators didn't release details about that conflict.
Phillips' car was in the driveway of the duplex Monday afternoon when Lattoure pulled up, police said. She approached his car, then was shot.
An autopsy showed that a fatal shot hit Lattoure's spine, her son said.
As neighbors heard shots Monday afternoon and called 9-1-1, Medford police quickly notified Washington Elementary and South Medford High schools, which went into precautionary lockdown, as did the Medford School District's central office.
School officials praised prompt and clear communication from police, who evaluated the potential threat to schools. As soon as investigators determined that everyone involved in the shooting was dead, the lockdown was lifted.
Washington Principal Joe Frazier said police and schools train to work well together in emergencies and that training paid off.
Teachers had information about the shooting right away so they could grieve after school, Frazier said. Then, on Tuesday morning, the school gathered students to acknowledge the tragedy that had happened in the neighborhood and reassure them that they were safe in school, he said.
Teachers provided some time for students to deal with grief, then helped them return their focus to learning, he said. The district provided additional counseling for a few students who needed more help.
The Children's Advocacy Center is also assisting Lattoure's family, officials said.
Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.