Reports: Someone shot at group of swimmers in Columbia River

Columbia Gorge Tri Club open swim held on Sunday, Sept 24 - Photo from Dawn Rasmussen

Deputies are investigating reports that someone was shooting at a group of swimmers and kayakers who were in the Columbia River on Sunday.

Deputies were called out about 10 a.m. on reports that bullets were hitting the water near the group between Mosier and Hood River, near Eighteen Mile Island.

Mark Frost, a member of the Columbia Gorge Tri Club, said he was among a group of five swimmers and six kayakers. The group was traveling from Mosier to Hood River.

"We have safety paddlers here to make us visible. We have orange floats to make us visible. We were literally sitting ducks in the middle of the river," Frost said.

In the water, he said, the group was surrounded by gunfire.

"Literally bullets zinging past (swimmers) heads into the water," he said.

Dawn Rasmussen was paddling alongside and told KATU News she heard more than 20 gunshots from two different types of firearms.

“The shots were off, but not by much,” said Rasmussen.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office searched the hillsides, bluffs and riverbank within 15 minutes of the reports, but said deputies couldn’t find a suspect or any evidence of gunfire.

They are unsure if the shooting was intentional or whether someone was shooting irresponsibly, a Wasco County official said. They added that the reports came in on opening weekend of youth duck hunting season.

Rasmussen said the team dresses in bright clothes to be seen. She said she feels like it was intentional.

"Didn't seem like it was target practice, except on human beings," she said.

If you have any helpful information, call deputies at (541) 296-5454.

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