Police in Polk County, Ore. found a suspected burglar dead inside a stolen truck Sunday morning. They say he burglarized a home twice the night before, stealing several items, including two guns.
In a statement, investigators said 19-year-old Genaro Hernandez Mendoza of West Salem, Ore. was heading to his family’s farm when he broke into a home on Independence Highway and stole several items. He then returned to the farm and hid the stolen items behind a barn.
Police say he then stole a pickup truck and returned to the same home he had already burglarized to steal more items, including a shotgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
Detective John Williams says investigators found a shotgun and the rifle Sunday morning, side by side on the passenger-side floorboard of a stolen farm truck, barrels pointed at the driver.
Williams says it appears that a lever on the shotgun got into the trigger guard of the rifle. When the truck hit a bump in the road, the rifle fired once, striking and killing Mendoza in a freak accident.
However, Sheriff Bob Wolfe said police are still investigating the incident to make sure no other parties were involved in the burglary. He added that it seemed clear that Mendoza’s death was accidental and the result of failing to safely store the weapons he stole.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated.
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