Man wanted for murder makes shoeless sprint for freedom

Find out how a routine traffic stop went from ‘zero to crazy’ in a moment – and why cops shut down SE Division Street, and called out the SERT team to capture this wanted, gun-toting man …

From SE 82nd Avenue of Roses east to 92nd Avenue, police shut down SE Division Street as they searched for a man, wanted for murder, who ran from a traffic stop.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was just another fall afternoon at the 76 Market owned operated by James Arokiadoss, at the edge of the Lents Neighborhood.

“But everything went from ‘zero to crazy’ in a minute,” Arokiadoss told us, as he described the events that started unfolding about 4:00 p.m. on October 23.

76 Market owner James Arokiadoss tells what he witnessed during a “routine police stop” at his business.

Says potential customer looked harmless
“It seemed like the driver of a red van saw there was a cop on his tail,” Arokiadoss reported. It’s like he pulled into our gas station. But when our attendant went by to ask him what he needed, the driver kept looking around and told the attendant he ‘wasn’t sure’. He just sat there. When I saw him, he looked like a harmless fellow.”

Arokiadoss said it had looked to him like other routine traffic stops, in which a driver and a police car pull off SE Division Street and into his gas station on southwest corner of 92nd Avenue.

“It seemed like everything was normal at first,” Arokiadoss continued. “But when they looked at his driver’s license and insurance, the officer asked him to wait a moment. Another police car pulled up.”

After police checked the identification of the man driving this red van – the driver took off on foot, leaving the van and a female passenger behind.

Traffic stop goes sideways
Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Officer Cathe Kent confirms the story: “Officers contacted the driver and female passenger, and obtained identification for the driver. The identity of the driver was being checked through our mobile data system and [we found] a half-million-dollar bail warrant for Attempt Murder, posted by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.”

Kent said that the officer alerted the second officer to the driver’s “wanted” status – then suddenly, the man, whom she identified as 28-year-old Olen Billy Butler, bailed out of the vehicle and headed westbound – on foot – on Division Street.

Although he was surprised to see the fleeing man drop his shoes and a gun, Arokiadoss picked up the gun and held it for police.

Sees man drop his shoes – and a gun
Arokiadoss continued his story: “The woman riding in the car didn’t move; the driver, a black man, dropped his gun, and his shoes, on our driveway on Division Street. I picked up the gun, because we didn’t want anyone to have anything to do with the gun. We locked it up and called the cops and gave the gun to them.”

Officers, one on foot and one in a patrol, took off after Butler, who was running shoeless west on SE Division Street, and followed him to the area in the 2400 block of SE 90th Avenue. Cover officers arrived, and a perimeter was secured around a residence in which officers believed Butler took refuge. The Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was activated, and SE Division Street was shut down from SE 82nd Avenue of Roses east to 92nd Avenue.

For over four hours – throughout the height of rush hour – SE Division St. remained closed, as police hunted for the running suspect, who for reasons understood only by himself, discarded his shoes as he fled.

SERT squad’s communication efforts rebuffed
“During the course of the investigation,” Kent informed us, “It was determined that Butler was inside with a female, and that she was an acquaintance, not a hostage.”

For several hours, SERT officers tried to communicate with Butler, via phone and loud-hail, and received no response. “SERT deployed a chemical agent – tear gas – into the residence. Immediately, Butler and the female exited the home, and were taken into custody at 8:26 p.m,” Kent reported.

Police say this man, 28-year-old Olen Billy Butler, was about to be picked up on a $500,000 bail warrant for Attempt Murder.

There were no injuries reported by Butler or the female. It is unknown at this time if any weapons were inside the home, Kent stated, adding, “At this time, I do not know if the female is being charged with a crime. The Attempt Murder charge, listed on the warrant, is a Gresham PD case.”

Later in the evening, things were back to normal at Arokiadoss’ gas station business.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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