Baseball practice shooting brings back memories of Autzen shooting for one local survivor

1984 shooting at Autzen Stadium - Photo from archive footage

EUGENE, Ore. - A survivor of the 1984 Autzen sniper shooting reflected on Wednesday's attack on a GOP congressional baseball team.

On Monday, November 12, 1984, police say a University of Oregon student, armed with a high-powered rifle and a shotgun, opened fire on UO athletes inside Autzen stadium.

"I don't think I could ever forget that," said Paul Weinhold, a former UO golfer who witnessed the attack inside Autzen more than thirty years ago.

Much like Wednesday's shooting, the athletes were in a familiar place where they had practiced for years. A place where they felt safe.

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Weinhold says he was lifting weights with former UO wrestler Rick O'Shea when they heard that someone had brought a gun inside Autzen Stadium.

"I said, ‘Rick, let's not go out there. Let's call the police,’" Weinhold remembers.

Weinhold says O'Shea walked onto the field. Police say the shooter, 19-year-old UO Freshman Michael Feher, was dressed in camouflage and perched above the weight room when he shot at O'Shea.

"Fortunately he missed Rick directly, but the bullet exploded and ricocheted and he was obviously injured because of that," Weinhold says.

Weinhold and O'Shea barricaded themselves inside the weight room along with other athletes.

Weinhold described what happened next as "World War III."

"There was so much gun fire," Weinhold said, "It was scary."

Police say the shooter did claim one life: former Olympic track athlete, 35-year-old Christopher Brathwaite, who was running outside of Autzen.

According to one report, police say it appears Feher took his own life. O'Shea recovered from his injuries. But, as Weinhold has seen firsthand, injuries can be more than just physical.

"Psychological injuries. Those are the things that people don't think about, and I've seen it with some of the folks who were in there," Weinhold said. "They really have been profoundly impacted."

Weinhold says, over the years, security has ramped up around Autzen and the rest of campus. He now works on campus and said he feels very safe.

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