East Portland armed home-invasion robbery turns deadly

Find out why these SE Portland neighbors, at first just surprised by this early-morning violent act – and are now shocked, especially that it’s turned into a murder investigation …

This apartment building, across the street from the Mt. Scott Community Center, is usually peaceful, neighbors say.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Mt. Scott Apartments, located across the street from the Mt. Scott Community Center,  were the scene of a home-invasion robbery on Friday, March 12th.

The location, in the 5700 block of S.E. 72nd Avenue at SE Reedway Street, is considered a quiet residential area for working-class people, neighbors say.

But, as the rain poured down in the pre-daybreak hours on March 12, the peace of this multi-family dwelling was shattered by the heavy boots of a group of bandits smashing in the front door of the first floor corner unit. The unofficial word is that one of the suspects knew the occupant’s daughter; and believed the home was stocked with both drugs and cash.

Recorded as a “disturbance call” when it first came in to the 9-1-1 Center at 4:10 a.m., the dispatch sent Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers to the apartment house.

On the back side of the apartment building, the window allegedly kicked out by one of the suspects as he made his escape was boarded up, hours after the incident occurred.

“Witnesses stated seeing three individuals force their way into an apartment,” reported Portland Police Bureau (PPB) spokesman, Sergeant Greg Stewart. “When they arrived, officers determined that a ‘home invasion robbery’ had occurred.”

As the police came on scene, one of the alleged robbers – later identified as 27-year-old Tyson L Wilcher – fled the apartment by smashing the rear window and dashing to a waiting getaway car. Police believe he dropped a pistol outside the unit as he made his escape.

Officers arrived and took custody of two individuals, Stewart reported. One of the alleged home invaders, later identified as 40-year-old Steven Cervantes, feigned injury, and told officers he was one of the victims – a story quickly disputed by one of the apartment’s occupants.

Police say this window was kicked out of a rear bedroom at the apartment building.

Police pursued the fleeing vehicle, but the chase was “terminated due to the poor weather conditions and the speeds involved,” said Stewart. The speeding vehicle continued on, after the officers stopped the pursuit, and crashed  into three parked cars near SE 50th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard about 7:40 a.m. Officers got word that at least one suspect ran from the smashed vehicle.

Then, around 8:30 a.m., at Providence Portland Medical Center, an Emergency Room staff member called 9-1-1 to report seeing two men, who matched the descriptions of those wanted in the alleged home invasion robbery, at the hospital. An officer, approaching the Providence campus on NE 45th Avenue and Glisan Street, spotted the pair, who were taken into custody.

At first, police reported that the three alleged assault victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries; two of them were transported to OHSU Hospital for care. None of the victims had gunshot wounds, records indicate.

Officials say this man, 55-year-old Jesus Rodriguez Garcia, died as a result of being beaten during an early morning home invasion robbery.

The beating meted out to the victims must have been more severe that first thought.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Public Information Officer, Detective Mary Wheat, said on March 26 that one of the occupants, 55-year-old Jesus Rodriguez Garcia, had died at the hospital on March 23. “Rodriguez-Garcia was beaten with a blunt force object during the robbery, he died as a result of the injuries he sustained.”

40-year-old Steven Cervantes and 25-year-old Henry B. Townsend Cervantes were already facing burglary, robbery, and assault charges – and now Aggravated Murder, as well.

Portland Police Detectives identified four suspects in this robbery: They are 27-year-old Tyson L Wilcher, 40-year-old Steven Cervantes, 25-year-old Henry B. Townsend, and 27-year-old Joshua Butcher. All four were arraigned on burglary, robbery and assault charges – in both the first and second degree – with many of the charges each requiring a $250,000 bail.

27-year-old Joshua Butcher faces burglary, robbery, and assault charges, and now, a murder charge has been added. 27-year-old Tyson L Wilcher faces a wide variety of charges including faces burglary, robbery and assault, and now, murder.

At that time, Tyson Leroy Wilcher faced additional charges, according to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office records – ranging from parole violation, to eluding police both on foot and by vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, possible delivery of methamphetamine, and second-degree assault.

Now, in connection with the death of Rodriguez Garcia, both Steve Cervantes and Henry Townsend have also been charged with one count of Aggravated Murder.

And, Tyson Wilcher and Joshua Butcher have both been charged with one count of Murder.

All of these suspects were arraigned in a Multnomah County Courtroom on March 26. All suspects remain in custody as of this writing.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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