While the gunman’s motives were unclear, taking aim at a Portland Police Bureau officer and cadet led to returned fire. But, it appears, the shooter actually died at his own hands ‚Ä¶
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The tranquility of a hot, summer afternoon was broken at 4:17 p.m. on July 19 when shots rang out in front of the Military Recruiting Facility, located in the 4000 block of SE 82nd Ave.
“When I came out of the Eastport Post Office, I heard someone shouting, ‘Drop it! Put it down’. Then, there were several shots,” eyewitness Bill Stapleton told us. “I was quite a distance away, but I could see the smoke from gunshots and what looked like a guy going down. Cops were shouting to people in the area, ‘get down, get down’.”
The man who died on the sidewalk was 37-year-old Jerry Goins. Police detectives said Goins was in the Navy, stationed in California. They added that Goins had traveled to Portland because he was emotional over his relationship with his girlfriend. At the time of his death, Goins was carrying a loaded pistol and binoculars.
9-1-1 call summons officer
On this sunny afternoon, a 19-year-old Portland Police Cadet was learning about police work, riding along in a patrol car driven by Portland Police Officer Richard Steinbronn.
A moment before 4:00 pm, the officer and cadet were dispatched to the recruiting facility. Someone called 9-1-1 and reported that an armed, suicidal man was coming to see his girlfriend.
Once inside the recruiter’s office, Officer Steinbronn didn’t find the man ‚Äì but he did talk with an individual, reported to be Goins, calling from a cell phone.
The officer and cadet got in their car, preparing to go on their next call. Then they spotted a man who matched Goins’ description walking up to the recruiting facility. And, he was carrying a gun.
Autopsy confirms suicide
Witnesses told investigators the officer exited his car and repeatedly ordered Goins to drop the handgun. Ignoring the officer’s orders, Goins turned and raised the weapon toward the officer and cadet. Officer Steinbronn then shot Goins four times, striking him in the mid-section.
After an autopsy, Multnomah County Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. Clifford Nelson confirmed that none of the wounds from the officer’s gun were immediately fatal. Instead, Nelson said, Goins took his own life with a gunshot wound to his head. Detectives said evidence indicated, and witnesses also attested, that the fatal shot was self-inflicted.
Eastport Plaza manager Ken Turner said he was called back to the shopping center by his security personnel. “We express our condolences and sympathy to relatives, friends and loved ones of Mr. Jerry Goins. And, we appreciate Chief Rosie Sizer and the officers of the police force for how they handled this tragic situation. The officers assured that the public was safe and out of harms way.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Barry Renna at (503) 823-0255 or Detective Mike Geiger at (503) 823-0768.
¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News