Street-drug turf war heats up, with Flavel Street murder

Officials say this stabbing wasn’t drug related; but sources tell us violence may escalate, as drug dealers – not gang members – fight to protect their distribution areas …

Portland Police Bureau detectives erected this tent at the murder site, while they investigate the stabbing death that took place here – near the dividing line between Multnomah and Clackamas Counties.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Just before 10 p.m. on May 8, two men get into a scuffle on SE Flavel Street, a block east of SE 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Angry words are exchanged – and, in full view passengers riding in a passing TriMet bus, one man attacks the other with a knife. A teenage girl tries to intervene and gets slashed, while trying to stop the knife-wielding suspect from stabbing the wounded man to death.

One man walks away from that fight; the other crumples to the street, dying.

Police detained a bus-load of witnesses for interviews following the stabbing.

“When officers arrived, they saw 28-year-old Jason Manuel Adams collapsed on the ground,” says Portland Police Bureau (PPB) spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. “Officers called for an ambulance, but Adams died at the scene. A 17-year-old female was transported to Portland Adventist Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.”

Detectives and criminalists from the PPB’s Identification Division set up a tent over the dead man’s body, and spend several hours processing the scene and interviewing witnesses.

Police say they suspect that this man, 18-year-old Sean Michael Lagrew, stabbed Adams to death – even though a friend tried to stop him.

Schmautz tells us officers and detectives contacted several individuals in the area, including 18-year-old Sean Michael Lagrew. “An autopsy conducted by the Multnomah County Medical Examiner confirmed that Adams died of a stab wound. Detectives arrested Lagrew on one count of Felony Murder, and booked him into the Justice Center Jail.”

Bravado beef or turf war?
While at the scene just before midnight, we speak with a confidential source who suggests that this fight was the result of “turf war” among drug dealers in the area.

Saying that SE Flavel Street has become the dividing line for street-drug dealing territories, the source tells us, “I expected violence to erupt in this area. And, now it’s happened.”

We ask the source if this is gang-related. “No, it’s drug dealers protecting their sales area.”

Later, we ask Sgt. Schmautz if detectives had determined the reason for the confrontation.

“I don’t see anything in the suspect’s history dealing with drug trafficking,” replies Schmautz – adding that he can’t comment on what may, or may not, have been on the suspect’s record as a juvenile. “From what I understand from detectives, the fight was the result more from misplaced bravado than anything else.”

This investigation is continuing.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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