Four people were shot dead and eight more wounded in a rash of gunplay across the state after Oregon’s legislature passed a resolution adopting the “Code of the West” as a guide for the state.
In southwest Portland, two men arguing over a parking space faced off in an old west-style gunfight.
“It was amazing,” said witness Helen Schneider of Beaverton. “Like something out of a John Wayne movie.”
The two men, both wearing gunbelts, stood facing each other across a strip-mall parking lot. Then, according to witnesses, 47-year-old paper salesman Bert Ellis drew his pistol and fired at, but missed his target, 29-year-old Wesley Stumpf of Lake Oswego. Stumpf followed with his own volley, striking Ellis in the chest. Ellis collapsed, clutching his chest, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Stumpf, of Happy Valley, was seen later celebrating with friends at a nearby saloon.
“He said I stole his parking spot,” said Stumpf, downing a shot of whiskey. “So I said, let’s cowboy up then, and settle this like they did in the old west. That’s how we do things in Oregon now.”
Meanwhile, in Roseburg, a posse caught and hung Carl Carlson, 38, from a tree after Carlson shot four people, one just for snoring too loud. Two of Carlson’s victims died, while two others remain hospitalized in serious condition.
Shootings were reported in several locations around the state, including Prineville, where Wayne Griggsby, 53, shot and killed 67-year-old Lon Bigbear, and moved into his house.
“He’s an injun,” said Griggsby, speaking from the front door of Bigbear’s house. “And that’s what happens to injuns in the old west. We get to kill you and steal your land. It’s cowboy law.”
The “Code of the West” – a list of 10 old-west-style principles to live by -- comes from former Wall Street investment manager James Owen, who wrote a book titled “Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn From the Code of the West.” To his surprise, the code took off. Oregon now becomes the third state to adopt Owen’s cowboy code as a “guide to live by,” joining Wyoming and Montana.
The 10 principles in the code include: "Live each day with courage." "Be tough, but fair." "Talk less and say more." "Remember that some things aren’t for sale." "Do what needs to be done." "Know where to draw the line." And the puzzling “Ride for the brand.”
“When a cowboy joins an outfit, he throws his bedroll in a chuck wagon. When he does that, he gives his loyalty 100 percent to the outfit. It’s a cowboy thing,” said Owen, who left Wall Street and is now a defendant in a lawsuit connected to Bernie Madoff investments.
The new "Cowboy Code" laws were having repercussions throughout the west, with OK Corral-style gunfights reported in Wyoming and Montana.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, reports of raping and pillaging were widespread after the state legislature formally adopted “The Viking Code.”
“Minnesota has a proud Scandinavian heritage,” said Rep. Tim Olsen, a Republican from Duluth. “We’re Vikings at heart, and by Odin’s beard, I’m proud we’re going back to the old ways.”