Lents search-warrant service ends in apparent suicide of suspected drug dealer

It looks like this incident, in a ‘pretty quiet’ area, really shook up the folks who live there …

Police block off streets near SE 99th Avenue and SE Woodstock Boulevard, as Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office deputies team up with SERT officers to serve a search warrant.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most folks were sound asleep in a pocket of houses in the Lents Neighborhood of outer East Portland– between I-205, SE Foster Road and Johnson Creek – at a little after 4:00 a.m. on July 25.

But, quietly moving in along SE Woodstock Boulevard, and staging at SE Woodstock Court at SE 99th Avenue, members of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) were getting ready to serve a search warrant.

An AMR ambulance stands by, as law enforcement teams encourage the suspect to show himself.

“I heard a lot of banging – then someone shouting through a loudspeaker of some kind,” recounted nearby resident Marvin Ganley.

“Then ‘Bang! Bang! Bang! – it sounded like a dozen shots, and glass breaking,” Ganley told East Portland News. “I’ve lived here for a couple of years, and it’s been a quiet place to live.”

He, and other neighbors, rubbed the sleep out of their eyes – only to rub them further, as tear gas vapor spread across the street. They saw officers, dressed in tactical gear, swarming around a nice-looking four-year-old rental duplex unit at 6416 SE 99th Avenue.

In the light of day, neighbors look at the duplex that, before dawn, was surrounded by law enforcement officers.

Second-floor windows are shot out, a result of SERT crews firing tear gas canisters into the unit.

“Members of our SIU applied for, and received, a search warrant for the house, based on information they’d developed,” MCSO Chief Deputy Jason Gates told East Portland News about what had led up to the early-morning confrontation.

The target of their investigation was believed to be a “mid-level” narcotics dealer, also involved lin other suspected illegal activities, Gates said.

In addition to drugs, SIU investigators also learned the suspect might also have a stash of weapons – specifically, guns.

The garage door of the duplex is breached by SERT officers, after the suspect won’t show himself.

“Anytime we execute a search warrant, we carry out a risk assessment,” explained Gates. “If we have information, such as in this case, that the suspect has a considerable criminal history involving violence and guns, we request the assistance of the Portland Police’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) officers.”

The suspect in the residence did not come out to meet police after numerous attempts by Crisis Negotiators to contact him, said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“SERT then deployed tear gas into the residence,” Simpson continued. “After the SERT officers made entry into the garage, they found the suspect, deceased, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Because of the residual tear gas, detectives, criminalists, and the Medical Examiner, donned gas masks and protective gear when they entered the home to search for evidence, and to conduct a death investigation as the SERT officers departed.

Landlord representatives arrive, with a carpet cleaning machine in their trunk, prepared for substantial clean-up work.

Once inside, Gates said, officers found not only methamphetamine and multiple firearms, “they also found evidence of identity theft crimes. We also towed away a RV from the house as part of the ongoing investigation.”

Saying that he works the swing shift, Ganley commented, “I sure hope it’s all quiet here tonight.”

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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