The staff at Gorilla Gas was sick of the silence.
In late July, their co-worker, Cashus Dean Case — known as “Deano” — was shot and killed by police outside his home at Seasider RV Park after allegedly refusing an order to drop two black powder pistols.
After the shock of the shooting wore off, gas station manager Jesse Jones was beginning to think the community had forgotten about his friend.
“It just got quiet all of a sudden. The only reminder in town is our rest-in-peace sign,” he said. “We wanted to make a day for Deano.”
To keep his memory alive, about 20 people held an informal celebration of life for Case on Thursday afternoon at Broadway Park. Some who attended, like Stephanie Babb, of Eugene, didn’t know Case personally but came to support the family as someone who also lost a relative to a police shooting.
“It’s hard when someone you love gets shot by police, because the first thing people ask is, ‘What did he do wrong?’” Babb said. “I just wanted the family to know there are other families feeling what they’re feeling, and they have a right to feel outraged and sad.”
In the background, the radio station 93.3 FM boomed — a nod to Case’s habit of blaring rock ‘n’ roll music at the gas station during his shift. Around a barbecue, friends remembered a man who worked hard, and “would give the shirt off his back,” to help anyone he thought needed it.
They remembered his love for his green motorcycle, which always had a stuffed Gorilla on the back to show his company pride, and his extreme attention to detail when it came to making sure the store was spotless.
“I’m the manager, and he was probably there more than I was,” Jones laughed.
Now, the gas station is quiet.
“It went from alive to feeling stale. (Gorilla Gas) has lost a lot of energy,” said Katie Kirtley, who owns the gas station. “He brought a lot of drive to make it better.”
Case was scheduled to work the day he died. Jones and Kirtley remember hearing rumors of a shooting at the RV park where he lived, hoping it wasn’t their friend. After calling him repeatedly to no avail, Kirtley headed to the Seaside Police Department, where she was notified of Case’s death.
It was disorienting for both Jones and Kirtley — who knew Case as a bombastic but ultimately sensitive and kind man — to imagine him dying this way.
“We’re all just so confused. We don’t know why this happened,” Jones said. “That’s what is killing me. Justified (shooting) or not, that’s what is getting us — the not knowing. Could something have gone differently?”
The shooting, which occurred after Case helped a man injured in a dog attack, remains under investigation.
Case’s father, Ken Case Sr., said nothing will take away the pain he feels from losing his son.
But getting some answers would help.
“All I want is justice,” he said. “If that happens, I walk. But if I don’t get justice, and this isn’t done fairly, I won’t be quiet.”