Neighbors urge more security after Southwest Portland shooting
UPDATED: July 6 "People could've died," a man said, seated among nearly 50 neighbors outside the Stephens Creek Crossing apartments in Southwest Portland.
Another neighbor conveyed palpable fear and unease following a shooting two days prior that shook residents.
Stephens Creek residents gathered Thursday, July 1, for a community meeting with the apartment complex's management company, along with a Portland police officer. The community meeting followed a shooting early Tuesday, June 29, in which a man in a neighboring apartment building fired 29 bullets throughout the Stephens Creek complex following an altercation. No injuries were reported, but several homes and vehicles were struck.
Court documents filed that same day indicated the gunman, 32-year-old Luke Stolarzyk, now faces an attempted murder charge, in addition to weapons charges. A court order was also approved to prevent Stolarzyk from accessing or owning any weapons, following his arrest.
The apartment complex sits at the end of a cul-de-sac off Southwest Capitol Highway, just across the street from the lively Mittleman Jewish Community Center.
Zakia Elatchi recalled opening her door to see smoke in the air from gunfire.
"I heard, 'pop, pop, pop,'" she said, then awoke her husband to alert him of the shooting.
Her sister lives in a neighboring apartment, and had planned to leave to go to the airport, Elatchi said.
"I told her, 'don't leave your apartment, there's been a shooting,'" Elatchi said. She later discovered her car had been struck by at least one bullet in the parking lot.
The gunman was stopped when a bystander was able to forcibly disarm and contain Stolarzyk, later being aided by other neighbors who helped subdue and restrain the shooter until police arrived.
Police said Stolarzyk was physically assaulted during the incident by those disarming him and required hospitalization. He left the scene in an ambulance.
"He needed very serious medical attention," Matt Jacobsen, acting sergeant on the case, told the group.
Jacobsen said the rampage "started over an argument someone took way too far."
According to witnesses and police accounts, Stolarzyk got into a shouting match with a neighbor and left the area, but returned with a weapon. He began pursuing the other man in the argument, firing rounds in his direction.
Police seized a firearm from the scene as evidence and recovered others "for safe keeping."
Police initially said the shooter was scheduled to be sent home, rather than jail, after he left the hospital for medical treatment. That had neighbors in the Hillsdale apartment complex angry and frightened for their safety.
"We could've been mourning somebody today, but thankfully we're not," Salma Sheikh said. "Everyone is here because we want to know this community is going to be safe and we can trust you."
Police announced Tuesday, July 6 that Stolarzyk was arrested after his release from the hospital, after additional charges were added to his indictment.
Jacobsen said he was limited in details he could release, citing an active investigation, but assured residents the man was unlikely to be a threat.
"We have a plan to ensure there's not going to be an ongoing threat to the community," Jacobsen said.
Stolarzyk is a custodial staff employee with Portland Public Schools, the district confirmed. A 2012 article in The Skanner noted Stolarzyk completed a Community Partnerships Reinvestment, or CPR youth rehabilitation program for youth who've previously been incarcerated or committed crimes. The program was geared toward preventing the participants from re-offending.
But something snapped in Stolarzyk around in the middle of the night, just as Portland was easing out of a record three-day heat wave.
Neighbors Stolarzyk initially confronted a man over a barking dog. A verbal argument ensued that set Stolarzyk off.
The Portland Police Bureau confirmed to Pamplin Media Group that Stolarzyk was cited to appear in court on charges of unlawful use of weapon, discharging a firearm in the city and first-degree criminal mischief. He now also faces an attempted murder charge.
One woman said the man Stolarzyk argued with and his dog are the source of frequent complaints from neighbors.
"He's constantly arguing with people and getting in these fights," one neighbor said of the man in her complex that got into a shouting match with Stolarzyk.
Some neighbors asked representatives from the apartment complex's management company to consider evicting the man, noting ongoing problems and complaints.
Elise Anderson, a manager with Home Forward, which runs the Stephens Creek Crossing housing complex, promised follow-up community meetings with residents. She said the complex has security cameras that were able to capture some footage from the incident.
Residents requested the property management company reinstate regular security patrols and said previous efforts to form a Neighborhood Watch program have been unsuccessful.
Jireh Wapunga, a high school student, has lived in the neighborhood for several years.
"We've been living here for a long time," she said. "Over the years, the community has separated a little."
Wapunga said her friend's car was shot up by the gunfire. It was one of several incidents of damage done.
Those with damaged vehicles in the parking lot were advised to file insurance claims with their auto insurance companies, and told any damage to buildings would be repaired by the management company.
A representative with Portland's Safe & Strong program, which provides community outreach and support for access to vital health care and mental health services, was on site to offer support and a listening ear to traumatized residents.
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