Affidavit details night of Owyhee River shooting

Police seized a car and a motor home as they investigate a fatal shooting the night of July 9, 2018, at a camp site along the Owyhee River (The Enterprise/Max Egener)’

ADRIAN – Out of the dark late at night, the blue Toyota drove into the remote camp, blinding the five campers with its headlights.

The driver got out, yelling, got back in, and tried to back out before getting stuck in the sand.

He emerged from the car again, this time with a flashlight and a gun.

The chaotic moments that ensued on the night of July 9 along the Owyhee River are captured in witness statements reported in a police affidavit. 

The document, detailing the death of 65-year-old Michael R. Reitler, was obtained by the Malheur Enterprise through a public records request.

The shooting death of Reitler, from Orofino, Idaho, remains under investigation by the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office and as of Monday, no charges have been filed. The affidavit amplifies the account given the Enterprise last week by the father of three girls who were at the campsite.

According to the affidavit, Antonio M. Serpa was camping not far from Snively Hot Springs with his girlfriend, Amanda Boyle, and her three young daughters. Serpa, 20, of Meridian, said Reitler drove into their camp, “screaming at them.” He said Reitler tried to back up but got stuck in the sand.

Serpa said he told Boyle and the girls to get into their tent while he stepped behind a tree to watch the man.

He said Reitler left his car and advanced on the camp, carrying a flashlight and a gun. Serpa said he confronted the man, who shoved him in the chest with the flashlight.

“He took it as an immediate threat,” according to the affidavit.

Serpa grabbed Reitler and took him to the ground, where Reitler was “able to point the gun and shoot.”

Deputies said they later spotted powder burns on Serpa’s side.

“Serpa said he hit the old man several times and got the gun away from him,” the affidavit recounted. “Serpa said he shot the gun in the bank because it was loaded.”

With his girlfriend and her girls, Serpa said he scrambled up to the roadway and flagged down a passing car.

The driver told police the group told her they had been jumped by a man with a gun. She agreed to give the group a ride to Owyhee Junction to meet police, who she had alerted with a call to 911.

“She said the male had a pistol and she asked for the pistol,” according to the affidavit. “She said the male handed the pistol to her. She then put the firearm on the floorboard by her feet for safety.”

Police found Reitler’s body “a short distance” from the tent and “with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the right side of his head,” according to the affidavit. 

Police later found nearby a motor home with a car dolly that belonged to Reitler.