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The police union president blames the City Council for the increase in gun violence.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - The scene of the early Saturday shooting.In the wake of a weekend shooting in Portland's Entertainment District that wounded six and left an 18-year-old girl dead, the ongoing debate about police staffing in Portland has once again come into view.

Makayla Maree Harris was shot and killed on Southwest Third Avenue around 2 a.m. Saturday, July 17. No one has been arrested for the shooting, and no suspect information has been released.

Makayla Harris "will never grow up to be whatever she was going to be in life," said Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner. "She'll never be able to be with her parents again and her family again."

Turner, a longtime critic of Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, leveled more criticism following her comments that more police would not have prevented this mass shooting.

"The deflection has to stop," Turner said. "They have to take ownership."

Hardesty, who said the shooting was "just absolutely terrifying to know that happened on the street in downtown Portland," also said this could not have been stopped by officers.

"I did hear the mayor say we need more police and more training, but every time there's a community tragedy, that's the tagline we use," Hardesty said. "And even if we had 10 police officers on the corner downtown, what would have turned out different? Nothing."

"I can guarantee you," Turner said, "if 10 police officers were standing on a corner that shooting would not have happened."

Portland began seeing a drastic rise in shootings in July 2020. Over the past year, Turner has repeatedly argued the deadly spike is directly correlated with the city's decision to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team a month before, in June 2020.

He sticks by that argument.

"Mayor Wheeler said the other day that we need a plan," he said. "They should've had a plan last year when they defunded the police, when they disbanded (the gang enforcement team). If they had had a plan, maybe some of these shootings wouldn't have happened. Maybe some of these homicides wouldn't have happened."

Turner said Portland residents feel hopeless and are sick of the violence.

"They want it to stop. They want more police officers. They want proactive police officers in our neighborhoods to keep them safe."

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.

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