Armed heists provide a hectic week for law enforcement in Outer East Portland

UPDATED! Read (and see exclusive photos) showing how some alert East Precinct cops nabbed one wild-driving bank bandit – as well as a gun-toting restaurant robber; and why the FBI is intently looking for yet another holdup man. It’s all right here …

Signs – like this one at the Gateway branch of Key bank, indicating a robbery has taken place – have been appearing at outer East Portland banks and companies at an alarmingly frequent rate, officials say.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With increasing, and alarming, regularity, businesses and banks are being held up throughout outer East Portland.

Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers have been kept busy this week, dealing with a rash of violent robberies.

August 24 – Key Bank – Gateway

This Key Bank branch was closed for the day, because of a morning robbery.

At 11:20 a.m., East Precinct officers were put on alert that the Gateway office of Key Bank – located in the Fred Meyer Gateway shopping center on NE 102nd Avenue had been held up by an armed robber.

“Officers Andrew Feist and Officer Parik Singh were on patrol in the area,” East Precinct’s Captain William Walker told us. “They spotted the bank robbery suspect’s car pulling into the parking lot of a gas station at NE 102nd Avenue at Glisan Street.”

East Precinct Officer Larry Wingfield also headed to the scene.

“As soon as the suspect spotted the patrol cars, he took off westbound on NE Glisan Street, and headed south on the I-205 freeway. It wasn’t a high-speed chase; they didn’t get over 65 mph before the suspect took the Division/Powell exit.”

The alleged armed bandit ran, but he couldn’t hide, from alert Portland Police Bureau officers.

The suspected robber headed west on SE Powell Boulevard, trying to make a clean get-away – but police radios are faster than clunker getaway cars. District officers also responded and converged on the suspect.

“Officers used the Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver (bumping the back of the car to make it spin out) – but the suspect crashed into a citizen’s vehicle, pushing it into a patrol car,” Walker said. “The second PIT stopped the vehicle. It became pinned, facing southbound, in the northbound lanes of 82nd Avenue of Roses, between civilian vehicles.”

The escaping suspected bank robber didn’t care whose car he hit wile trying to make good his escape – even this patrol car.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the course of this multi-vehicle smash-up.

Jimmy Dennison said he was in the Carl’s Jr. restaurant when he saw the end of the chase unfold. “The guy couldn’t get out the door of his car – he climbed out of the car window, and ran toward us. It looked like he had a gun; we scattered.”

This man, Randy Bruce Turner, is the one who the police and FBI suspect in the Key Bank robbery.

But, the suspect, later identified as 52-year-old Randy Bruce Turner, didn’t get far. Officers Feist and Singh were right behind him. Officer Wingfield also sprinted for the alleged bandit – although he had to crawl out the passenger’s door of his own damaged cruiser, Walker noted.

Turner was booked into jail on suspicion of bank robbery; the FBI hasn’t commented on any actions they plan to take in this case.

August 24 – Red Apple Bar and Grill – Wilkes Neighborhood

At the site where the Red Apple Bar and Grill was built in early 2007, owner David L. Thompson said he hoped to escape the crime of N. Interstate Avenue. East PDX News file photo

In late 2006, David Thompson was about to build the business of his dreams, the Red Apple Bar and Grill, at 16126 NE Sandy Boulevard. “The area around our North Portland establishment is going downhill,” Thompson told us in December of 2006, as he showed us plans for his new facility. “After twelve years of renting, we wanted to have our own place.”

But the crime Thompson said he hoped to escape in North Portland seems to have traveled to outer East Portland. About 5:30 p.m. on August 24, police were notified that an armed thug had just robbed the Red Apple Bar and Grill. Officers on-scene confirmed that a man had entered the establishment with a handgun and robbed the bar.

The alleged bandit headed south to make his getaway – until an alert cop spotted a fellow, who matched the description of the robbery suspect, near NE 162nd Avenue and E. Burnside Street.

Here’s how the Red Apple Bar and Grill looks today.

“Officers began following this vehicle,” said PPB spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat. “And, a few minutes later, the suspect ran from the vehicle near SE 172nd Avenue and SE Pine Street. The driver of the vehicle stayed in the car, and was taken into custody by police and later released. The suspect, who ran from the car, was seen running into a residential area.”

As the is their practice when an armed suspect is on the run, police cordoned off the area, and called in members of East Multnomah County SWAT and Portland Police SERT unit members.

“A Portland Police K9 team located the suspect hiding in a shed in a mobile home park in the 16900 block of SE Pine Street,” Wheat went on. “Officers attempted to communicate with the suspect in the shed, and then deployed tear gas. Witnesses saw the suspect run from the shed with a gun; the suspect was shot by Officer Russ Corno, a 16-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau and member of SERT. A weapon was recovered at the scene of the incident.”

We believe police have gotten to know Osmar Lovaina-Bermudez quite well. He’s recovering in an area hospital – officials say the mug shot was taken he was arrested on July 22 for his involvement in different alleged criminal incident.

Investigators identified this alleged robber as 36-year-old Osmar Lovaina-Bermudez. “Portland Police Robbery Detectives believe that this suspect has been involved in numerous armed robberies in the same area over the last several weeks,” Wheat confirmed. “There are pending robbery charges against him.”

UPDATE:
On Wednesday, September 2, 2009, a Multnomah County Grand Jury cleared Portland Police Officer Russ Corno in the shooting incident involving Osmar Lovaina-Bermudez that occurred August 24, 2009, according to Detective Mary Wheat.

Osmar Lovaina-Bermudez was indicted on September 1 by a Multnomah County Grand Jury on six counts of Robbery in the First Degree with a Firearm, three counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, one count of Escape in the Third Degree, and one count of Possession of a Controlled Substance.

August 26 – Riverview Community Bank – Gateway

This branch of Riverview Community Bank has been robbed at gunpoint – twice – just in the last week, officials say.

About 1:30 p.m., an alleged armed robber, dubbed “The River Rat” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) strode into the Riverview Community Bank at 10401 NE Halsey in the Gateway district and demanded money – again!

The same man is suspected of armed robbery at the Gateway branch of Columbia State Bank earlier in August.

“He robbed this same bank exactly one week before, on August 19,” stated FBI spokesperson Beth Anne Steele. The River Rat is also suspected of hitting the Gateway branch of Columbia State Bank, three blocks east at 10735 NE Halsey St on August 7, noted Steele.

“We’re asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating this man,” requested Steele. “He has been responsible for a series of violent bank robberies and store robberies in Oregon and three in the Vancouver, Washington area over the past few weeks.”

In each case, she revealed, the man has entered the bank or store, displayed a black handgun, and demanded cash. “In several cases, he actually leaped onto or over the teller counter to get to the cash.”

Do you know this man? If so, call the FBI today!

Witnesses describe the man as:

  • Race: Caucasian
  • Age:  20’s – mid 30’s
  • Height:  5’7″
  • Weight:  165 pounds
  • Build:  Medium
  • Clothing:  Sometimes wears a black athletic-style jacket with a white stripe or a gray zip-up sweatshirt; a baseball cap (sometimes camouflage), dark sunglasses; latex gloves
  • Other info:  Speaks with an accent

“No one has been injured in any of these robberies, but this man should be considered armed and dangerous,” added Steele. “No one should approach him. If in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, anyone who has a tip is asked to call the FBI at (503) 224-4181.”

UPDATE
On September 3, Steele reported, “The Oregon Financial Institutions Security Task Force is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of an armed and dangerous serial robber nicknamed the “River Rat”.  In addition, the FBI has added “River Rat” to the crime alert section of their webpage to view it, CLICK HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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