EDITOR: East Portland gun violence - a report from the trenches
Some BEE readers are evidently skeptical about whether there actually has been a sharp and accelerating rise in gun violence in East Portland – particularly east of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses – since the Portland City Council decision to disband the Portland Police Bureau's "Gun Violence Reduction Team" last June.
It's real – truly an explosion of ongoing gun violence that was the subject of our editorial in the September BEE.We presented police statistics illustrating the point, but some seem to question the statistics. We at THE BEE are in a position to confirm this sharp rise in shootings; our correspondent David Ashton, who reports on what happens west of 82nd for THE BEE, covers the news east of 82nd for his own online newspaper – eastpdxnews.com
David for years has covered shootings in East Portland in individual stories. Shortly after the unfortunate City Council decision, he realized there were now too many new shootings to handle that way, and he began to stack multiple incidents in each story to keep up with the shooting incidents – and now he finds he has to add more shootings to these compendium stories before he publishes them, since even more have occurred while he is writing and preparing his story.
You can, of course, go to David's news service website and see for yourself the intense criminal activity going on with guns in East Portland on an ongoing basis. But for those who doubt our position but cannot bestir themselves to investigate it, here is a story David prepared for publication after September 10, which he had added to twice – to add yet more shooting incidents – before he could post it. We obtained David's permission to share this with you, along with a photo or two he took while at these incidents. . . __________________________________
Shootings continue: Bullets rip into house; other shots wound men
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The seemingly unending string of gun violence incidents continue to surge in East Portland. But now they have shifted from taking place in the dead of night, and are now happening in broad daylight.
September 7: More than two dozen bullets pepper Lents house
Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers were called out at 12:46 p.m. on September 7 to investigate "shots fired" calls on S.E. 99th Avenue, between Ramona and Reedway Streets.
Because east-west streets in this part of the Lents neighborhood are cut off by I-205, there is no through traffic; the only people who travel the area are neighbors.
It didn't appear there had been any shooting victims at this incident – but, on the west side of the street there was an amazing display of yellow evidence markers, each one marking the location of a spent bullet casing. "In fact, officers believe at least 28 rounds were fired," PPB Public Information Officer Sergeant Kevin Allen confirmed to East Portland News. "No one was injured; but an occupied house was struck by gunfire."
As officers investigated this shooting, neighbors could be seen peering out of their homes' windows, watching the investigation unfold. "This used to be such a quiet, family neighborhood; and I should know, I've lived here for 44 years," Ida Hokanson remarked, shaking her head. "Now, every time there is a shooting nearby – this one was too 'close for comfort' – I feel terrorized living in my own house.
"I wonder if Mayor Ted Wheeler, and the bunch downtown, would pay for bullet-proof wallpaper – since they say there isn't a problem with shootings here!" Hokanson remarked to East Portland News.
Who, and why, this part of Lents got shot up is still a mystery. "The suspect is still outstanding," Sergeant Allen said.
September 7: Man shot near Earl Boyles Park
Then, at 3:16 p.m. on Monday afternoon, September 7, PPB East Precinct officers were called to another shooting incident – this one on the northern edge of the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, in the 3900 block of S.E. 103rd Avenue, between Francis and Bush Streets, just south of Earl Boyles Park.
"Officers found an adult male who had been shot," reported PPB Public Information Officer Derek Carmon. "The victim was transported to an area hospital, with injuries." Carmon offered no comment on the extent of his injuries.
While not officially in custody, a man and woman appeared to have been detained, and were sitting on a curb within the "incident containment" area, watching as the investigation got underway.
"It's good they've put in the new park up there – I mean, for families and such – but since then, we've had all kinds of trouble that seems to start there, and then comes down our street," neighbor Charlie Davy told East Portland News. "With the riots and all the shootings, this city I've loved for more than 50 years is going to hell."
It's unclear if there is a continuing danger to the community. "No arrests have been made," Officer Carmon said.
September 9: Man wounded in Madison South neighborhood
Three blocks east of N.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses along Russell Street, two blocks away from "The Lumberyard" skate and bike park, East Precinct officers were dispatched to look into a reported shooting on Wednesday, September 9, at 12:50 a.m.
"Officers found an adult male victim with gunshot wounds," related PPB Public Information Officer Melissa Newhard. "However, the officers then learned the victim was shot at a different location before arriving at N.E. Russell Street near 85th Avenue; but the victim was not forthcoming with information regarding the incident."
In an attempt to provide lifesaving aid, officers put a tourniquet on the victim's arm before he could be taken to an area hospital by ambulance.
"His medical condition is unknown at this time," Newhard remarked. "Given the circumstances of the incident, there seems no threat to the community."
If anyone has information about this, or any of the other shooting incidents, and has not yet been contacted by investigators, they are asked to call the non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.
September 10: Shootout disrupts Hazelwood neighborhood
What started as a shootout in the Hazelwood neighborhood on S.E. 143rd Avenue, just north of Stark Street, on Thursday, September 10, eventually turned into a two-block incident ending along the TriMet MAX line on East Burnside Street just west of S.E. 141st Avenue.
East Precinct officers were dispatched to this shooting at 4:07 p.m.
"Officers found evidence of gunfire, including an apartment building that was hit by bullets during – what preliminary investigation shows, was – a confrontation that occurred between several subjects," reported Public Information Officer Melissa Newhard. "The confrontation led to two subjects shooting towards each other."
Fortunately both gunmen had poor aim. "No one was struck by gunfire; both subjects who were involved in this incident have been taken into custody," Newhard said. "Given the circumstances of the incident, there is no threat to the community."
However, it's unclear if either one of the involved subjects was arrested and booked; if they were, their names have yet to be made public.
So there you have it. Merely four more days of shootings in East Portland – far more shooting activity in such a short time than had been the norm prior to the City Council decision to disband the PPB "Gun Violence Reduction Team". If you think that is not typical, and that it was somehow cherry-picked for this purpose, just go to – eastpdxnews.com – and see for yourself. (There's an archive so you can look back at past reports.) Our thanks to David Ashton for sharing his East Portland coverage with you.
So, now, we'll finish this follow-up editorial exactly the way we did last month's editorial:This sharp rise in shootings is not news to the people in that part of Portland – among them are many of the ethnic minorities and immigrants who have come to our city. Some came here as refugees, seeking peace and freedom. Now they face fear and violence. People – residents of the City of Portland – are injured and dying by gun violence.We hope the Portland City Council, confronted with this evidence, will reconsider their decision to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team.
And, whether the City Council takes the necessary step to restore it or not, it seems clear that it is past time to update our quaint and unrepresentative form of city government. This is the third time THE BEE has had to write an editorial, recently, calling for such reform.
We live in one of the 25th largest metropolitan areas in the country, and we are still governed by only five individuals, elected with no mandate for geographical representation, whose personal agendas have a disproportionately large effect on the city, its Bureaus, and all of its services, and all of its residents. It is time for Portland residents throughout the city, and not just Downtown, to have much more of a say in the form of government they live under.
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