U.S. Man Arrested for Plotting to Kill Several Climbers

A 39-year-old Portland, Oregon man, Samson Zebturiah Garner, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly planning to kill several climbers at the annual Craggin’ Classic event in Smith Rock. Smith Rock is considered the birthplace of American sport climbing.

According to the Bend Bulletin newspaper via Climbing magazine, two people who knew Garner informed local police that Garner had been speaking about his plan to attack climbers during the American Alpine Club event.

The police acted quickly, warning the AAC on Wednesday before the competition began and arresting Garner, who had driven about three hours to the site of the event in central Oregon.

The police found evidence of the potential attack in his vehicle, including a Beretta and Sig Sauer 9mm handguns and an AR-15 rifle.

According to Climbing, Garner planned to kill several of the participants. Whether he planned to kill specific people is unclear at this time. One source listed the potential targets as Belayer 1, Belayer 2, Spectator 1, and Spectator 2. But local District Attorney Steve Gunnels said that investigators recovered Garner’s journal, which indicated that he was not planning to shoot specific people, but had a “generalized anger.”

The American Alpine Club (AAC) has posted a statement on its Instagram account, confirming that they were made aware of the potential threat on October 18. The Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic was to take place Oct. 20-22, at Smith Rock State Park.

Suspect is a climber himself

According to the news site Opb.org, Garner has worked as an IT professional, was a climber himself, and was a member of Mazamas, an educational mountaineering nonprofit. According to its executive director, Rebekah Phillips, Garner’s involvement with the group has been minimal since 2018.

Law enforcement is continuing to investigate, but it seems that Garner was acting alone, so the event is underway as planned.

Garner will be arraigned on Oct. 27.

The Craggin' Classic has begun as planned

The three-day Craggin’ Classic is underway as planned. Photo: Smith Craggin’ Classic/Facebook

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.