Murder at Menlo Park remains a mystery

Who gunned down the onetime owner of a pot shop in Columbia County near a school in Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood is unknown; just why he was there is murky too … 

Police officers shut down this outer East Portland street after a man is found shot multiple times, in broad daylight.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The life of 38-year-old Larry Edwin Van Dolah Jr. ended just after 12:30 p.m. on April 15, in a shaded area on the east side of NE 128th Avenue, at an entrance to the Menlo Park Elementary School sports field.

9-1-1 dispatchers alerted Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers at 12:39 p.m. that a man had been shot and was on the ground; the first four of an eventual 27 police units arrived within three minutes of when the radio call was broadcast.

Responding to the shooting are homicide detectives, criminalists from the Forensic Evidence Division, a Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney, and a Multnomah County Medical Examiner.

Medical personnel arrived and confirmed that the victim, later said to be Van Dolah, was deceased.

“Preliminary information from Homicide detectives indicates that the suspects are three black males, aged 16 to 20 years old, all wearing hooded sweatshirts and blue jeans, who were last seen running southbound on NE 128th Avenue, crossing East Burnside Street,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Red crime scene tapes marks the area on the west side of the Menlo Park Elementary School sports field, where the victim was found.

“East Precinct officers stopped two vehicles on SE 122nd Avenue, near Stark Street, but determined that the drivers and occupants were not connected to the shooting,” Simpson added.

The following day, the Oregon State Medical Examiner determined that Van Dolah had died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Using the PPB Mobile Precinct as their operations center, detectives continue the shooting investigation throughout the day.

“At this point in the investigation, it is not known what led to the shooting or if the victim and suspects knew each other,” Simpson said.

Police provide this 2015 Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles photo of Larry Edwin Van Dolah Jr.

A published obituary revealed that, after retiring from operating construction-related businesses, Van Dolah’s “life’s passion” was a “marijuana business, being the first in St. Helens, Oregon, to open medical and recreational marijuana storefront and ‘grow’ operation.”

“There are no new leads in the case, and Homicide detectives would like to hear from anyone with information; contact Detective Vince Cui at 503-823-0449, vince.cui@portlandoregon.gov; or, Detective Anthony Merrill at 503-823-4033, anthony.merrill@portlandoregon.gov,” Simpson requested.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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