An altercation between two males in the parking lot of Fred Meyer on Sixth Street Sunday night, Sept. 9, ended in a homicide that is now under investigation.
Officials say the case appears to be unrelated to another recent homicide in The Dalles.
Mark Anthony Labonte, 20, died about 1:40 a.m. Sept. 10 after being taken by LifeFlight to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland for treatment of severe injuries. The dispute between the victim and another male reportedly took place about 9 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot but authorities have declined to provide further information about the incident.
“The manner of death is homicide but the details of the exact cause of death are being investigated by law enforcement and are not being released at this time,” stated a Sept. 10 press release written by Wasco County District Attorney Eric Nisley and The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury.
Law enforcement officials have stated that a suspect description has been developed in the case and they are now seeking that person for further questioning.
A candlelight vigil was held Monday evening for Labonte and a shrine with candles still burning remained at Fred Meyer this morning on the triangle of ground next to the can depository.
Many friends have left messages of loss and have shared memories on Labonte’s public Facebook page since his death.
“Take care, my friend. You are a good guy. You didn’t deserve this. You were too young, bro,” wrote Jaime Hernandez.
“I just saw you last week,” said Chuy Olivares. “You were laughing and enjoying life. Now to know you are gone. You will be missed big time.”
Labonte was in The Dalles Wahtonka High School’s class of 2011, and has a family member still attending the school. Principal Nick Nelson remembers him as an easy-going kid.
“He seemed to get along well with others,” Nelson said. “He seemed to me to enjoy life.”
The high school is prepared to offer counseling services to any student in need through the counseling office, Nelson said. The school can also draw on counselors from other schools under its crisis team plan.
Nisley said Monday that Labonte’s death is unrelated to the murder of Scott Erlenbush, 46, that occurred Aug. 25 in the AmeriTitle parking lot off Second Street in The Dalles.
Police Sgt. Dan Nelson is asking anyone with information about the Sept. 9 homicide, or the homicide of Erlenbush, to call 541-296-2613 and speak to himself or any other officer that is available.
The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police are assisting in both investigations.
Nisley said Monday that all leads that are given to police in the Erlenbush case are being investigated but there is no new information to share in that case and a suspect description has not yet been developed.
Detectives have been trying to track down the driver of a vehicle that might have given Erlenbush a ride to The Dalles from his home in Dallesport on Aug. 25. Surveillance footage of the parking lot near the Shell Station at the east-end of town shows Erlenbush near gold full-sized sedan, similar to an older Taurus or Mercury Sable.
The driver of the car is shown as a white male in his 20s with dark blonde or light brown hair. He is unshaven with a small goatee and a lower lip piercing.