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Homicides overwhelm Portland Police Bureau in 2021, with more deaths so far than most years total.

PMG FILE PHOTO - A Portland police vehicle."These homicide detectives are buried under their cases. They just keep coming," Portland police Lt. Greg Pashley said on the heels of a grizzly night in the city that left three people dead.

Pashley spoke Wednesday. March 31, to address two separate shootings and a stabbing just hours earlier.

The first incident — a shooting — was reported near the 600 block of Northeast 131st Place shortly after 10 p.m. March 30. One person was injured and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers found the suspect a short time later inside a pickup truck, but he fled and a chase ensued. The chase ended in a dead-end parking lot and, after hours of negotiations, the man took his own life.

Police responded to an assault report on Southwest First Avenue and Southwest Ankeny Street just after midnight March 31 and found one person injured from an apparent stabbing. Pashley said officers "attempted some first aid" at the scene and the victim was rushed to a hospital but later died.

A report then came in about four hours later that a person had been shot at a convenience store in the 1900 block of North Lombard Street. Officers found a man injured by gunfire. Paramedics on the scene attempted life-saving measures before the man was sent to a hospital where he was ultimately pronounced dead. Pashley said the victim was a customer at the store.

The spike in gun violence — and deadly violence in general — has taxed Portland's law enforcement system and led to many conversations among city leaders about what steps should be taken to prevent it. If the second shooting and the stabbing are found to be homicides, they will bring the total tally for 2021 to 25. That's more than Portland often sees in an entire year.

"It's very rare for us to have two in a week, much less two in a night, in the city of Portland," Pashley said. "It's part of the circumstances we're living in in Portland, unfortunately."

Earlier this month, Portland police Sgt. Kevin Allen partly attributed the uptick in shootings to gang activity but said officers have been responding to various forms of gun violence calls. The Enhanced Community Safety Team launched in February has been helping the bureau investigate homicides.

Pashley said that while the Portland Police Bureau has added detectives to focus on shooting investigations, they simply "can't keep up. There are just too many shootings."

Multiple violent crimes in one night also limit the bureau's ability to respond to other calls throughout the city as officers on the same shift are stretched thin, Pashley said.

KOIN 6 News reached out the office of Mayor Ted Wheeler and was referred back to the bureau.

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


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