This family didn’t think they needed a professional arborist to cut down at tree at their house. Read about what happened next, that sent two men to the hospital‚

In an instant, a family tree-cutting party turns into a tragic event, as a limb pins two family members to the ground. After freeing them, Portland Fire & Rescue workers stabilize the two victims.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Because members of the homeowner’s family had successfully trimmed away the branches and smaller limbs, it seemed like the rest of the tree removal job would be a snap. Actually, it was louder than that, and more painful.

Two men were steadying a large branch, at the home in the 6400 block of SE 74th Avenue, about 7 p.m. on March 18. Then, “crack” ‚Äì loud enough to startle neighbors across the street‚ and the limb dropped on the two men below it.

After being strapped to a backboard, the most seriously injured man is stabilized with a neck brace.

Helping out when at the time of the accident is Vicente Aguilar. On scene, he tells us the branch “just fell off. It hit one of my brother-in-laws in the neck, and knocked down the other one.”

Praises fast emergency response
In less than five minutes, Aguilar says, the first fire truck pulls up to the house.

“The call came in as a ‘pin in’,” the navigator of Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 11 says, “but it was a ‘pin under’. We’re taking care of two people who look fairly seriously injured by the falling branch.”

Ready to be transported, the second victim is wheeled on a gurney toward an ambulance.

Due to new privacy laws, information on the condition of the injured men is not available to the press.

“Our firemen are nothing but the best,” says Aguilar. “We have the best rescue people in the whole world. They were professional. They know what to look for, and treated the guys the best. Please thank them.”

We certainly will pass on your praise to them, Mr. Aguilar.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

CRIME STOPPERS: Look at this story‚ let’s see if we can find these gambling-machine busting thugs, and put them behind bars‚

As they stroll into the gaming room, authorities say, these guys don’t depend on luck ‚Äì they crowbar-open the machines, and steal the cash inside.

Story by David F. Ashton
Two guys have taken megabucks from lottery earnings‚ but it isn’t because they have stupendously good luck. Instead of relying on good fortune, they use a crowbar.

Check their brazen MO
During business hours, with customers and staff in the building, these two thieves walk into restaurants or bars, and take a seat at the lottery machines.

Then, they whip out a crowbar or some sort of prying tool, pry the machine open, and take the cash.

Customers have been sitting right next to the suspects unaware to the crime being committed. In less than two minutes, the bad guys pry the machines open and slip out with thousands of dollars.

Anyone you recognize? Call Crime Stoppers and turn ’em in!

Let’s put an end to their crime spree
Bill’s Steakhouse, 10227 NE Sandy Blvd, has also been hit twice — March 9 and March 20. The Tic Toc at SE 112 at Division St. was hit on March 12. Most recently, machines at the Firescape Bar at NE 90th Ave and Sandy Blvd. were busted open on March 21.

  • Suspect #1 is described as a white male, 30s, 5’9″ tall, 220 pounds, with brown hair, wearing long shorts, and tennis shoes with a reflective strip down the top of the shoes.
  • Suspect #2 is described as a white male, 20-30 years of age, 5’9″ tall and 200 pounds.

The suspects may be associated with a white 1992 Suzuki Samurai, with a possible Washington license plate of 788PHG.

Don’t let these crooks get away. Your anonymous tip could be worth $1,000.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony — and you can remain anonymous.  Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (823-4357).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Police race to investigate calls about a “Cadillac driving itself ‚Äì badly”. Curiosity turns to concern for the officers, when the sedan charges, head-on, toward their patrol cars ‚

By coordinating their efforts, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Tommy Newberry and Sgt. Dave Steele bring the car‚ said to be driven by a nearly-unconscious woman‚ to a safe stop.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Although it may have sounded like a prank, 9-1-1 emergency dispatchers take seriously the calls about a “Cadillac driving itself ‚Äì badly” on March 14.

“Calls started coming at 12:20 p.m.,” reports Sgt. Brian Schmautz, “from people saying they were seeing a blue Cadillac driving eastbound in the westbound lanes of NE Sandy Blvd. Reports ranged from describing the car as being unoccupied to others saying the driver had to be drunk, high, or unconscious.”

The “undriven” car veers south
Somehow, the Cadillac turns south on NE 162nd Ave.

East Precinct Officer Schultz sees the careening Caddy first, as it passes NE Stanton St. in Wilkes.

“Near NE Halsey St.,” says Sgt. Dave Steele as he picks up the story, “I see the car, on the wrong side of NE 162nd, coming directly at me, head-on. I swerve off the road to avoid a head-on collision.”

As the big blue sedan passes, Steele says, he sees an elderly lady in the drivers seat. “I noticed her mouth was open, her eyes were looking up, and she was leaning back and appeared to be having a seizure or was unconscious.”

East Precinct Officer Tommy Newberry shows us the small damage his unique intervention technique caused to his vehicle.

Charges another patrol car
As the mostly out-of-control Caddy continues its southbound spree, Officer Tommy Newberry spots the car.

“Driving north on NE 162nd Ave., south of Halsey St., and I see Schultz, Steele, and the Cadillac. It crosses the center line of the road, heading right toward me. I swerved out of the way. As it went by, I could see a tiny, elderly lady in the driver’s seat.”

The woman, Newberry says, isn’t “actively driving the car. She’s slumped down, clearly not in control of the vehicle”.

Glisan St. looms
Sgt. Steele performs a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver, unsuccessfully. The Cadillac swerves and then continues ahead at 35 mph.

“It looked likely she was going to drive through the red light, and plow into cross traffic at NE Glisan St,” Newberry continues. “Another PIT could have thrown the car out of control. I came up next to her car, steered into it, and gave it all the horsepower I safely could. I left about 70 feet of good burnout marks on the pavement as I pushed the car into the curb. But, the car was still trying to surge out of the stop.”

At the same time, Officer Schultz placed the push bumper of his patrol car against the rear side of the Cadillac. Sgt. Steele finally halted the run-away Caddy by nosing in, pinning it in place.

Everyone involved, including driver, 87-year-old Alma McKnight, later found to be driving on a suspended license, escaped the oddball pursuit and stop without injury.

Driver uninjured, but unconscious
Paramedics from Portland Fire & Rescue’s Engine 74 assist removing the driver, identified as McKnight, out of her vehicle. She is found to be uninjured by the officer’s actions but is unresponsive. McKnight is Portland Adventist Hospital for medical attention.
Citizens lead cheer

Several citizens look on, and cheer the officers for bringing one of the most unusual pursuits in East Precinct history to a safe ending.

“It’s amazing to me,” Newberry muses, “that there are no injures or serious damage caused here today.”

McKnight is later revealed to have a suspended driver’s license, due to an undisclosed “medical condition”.

Despite all that happened, she told KATU-TV afterward, in a broadcast interview, that “I never drove through a red light, I never drove on the wrong side of the street, the police damaged my car; it’s age discrimination. I definitely will keep driving.”

Look out.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Police say an elderly lady stepped out into traffic; read on to see what officials said about the driver that hit her …

Looking west on SE Division Street, police say this blue Geo hit and killed the woman as she crossed the busy street on Saturday.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Another pedestrian was killed in outer East Portland on March 10.

Information about the accident that took the life of an 87-year-old woman as she crossed SE Division St. near SE 170th Ave. on a busy Saturday morning, minutes before noon.

“According to information gathered by Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct officers and Traffic Division Fatal Investigators,” says spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz, “it appears that the deceased stepped into the street from between two cars, and may not have been visible until just prior to the collision.”

Paramedics from Gresham Fire Bureau treat the woman who is said to have been driving the vehicle involved in the accident.

Investigators believe the collision occurred when the deceased begin to walk northbound across Division St. and was hit by the driver of a Geo, traveling eastbound on Division St.

“Immediately upon arrival,” Schmautz continues, “officers found the body of a woman who appeared to have sustained numerous injuries in the collision.”

Noontime Saturday Division St. traffic is snarled for hours while the crash scene is investigated.

Driver visibly shaken
59-year-old Shirley Robinson, the driver of a Geo, waited near the crash scene.

“Investigators found no evidence of impairment and speed is not a factor in the collision,” Schmautz comments.

Authorities are postponing the release of the deceased’s name until after her family is notified.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Here’s the whole story of why SE 39th Ave. & Holgate St., including the Woodstock Trader Joe’s, was shut down on March 12‚ and, learn about the man police are honoring as a hero for fingering the alleged felon‚

All through the evening of March 12, traffic was routed around the crime scene where a wanted man shot at police officer‚ for no apparent reason.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
What starts off as a routine traffic stop turns into a one-sided shooting spree and manhunt on Monday, March 12.

Folks driving home from work, perhaps planning to shop at Trader Joe’s on SE 39th Ave. south of Holgate Boulevard, find area streets blocked off with yellow “police crime scene” tape.

At traffic stop, passenger opens fire
“About 5:20 p.m., Portland Police Bureau SE Precinct Officer Robert Wullbrandt pulled over a black Buick Regal for a traffic violation,” Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us on scene.

Schmautz says the car pulled in to the north end of the Trader Joe’s parking lot, followed by Wullbrandt’s patrol car. Inexplicably, as the officer is starting to chat with the driver of the auto he stopped, a passenger “bolts out of the car’s backseat and starts running eastbound across SE 39th Ave.”

As Wullbrandt chases after the fleeing man, the subject turns, takes aim, and fires his semiautomatic weapon at the officer. Because of Wullbrandt’s training, the officer resists the impulse to return fire and risk wounding the many bystanders.

As the gunman nears SE Holgate Boulevard, he stumbles, turns, and shoots again, before disappearing around the corner.

Members of the Special Emergency Reaction Team direct the evacuation of nearby residents and begin to negotiate with the alleged gunman from their post in the Trader Joe’s parking lot on SE. 39th Street.

The Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) is activated, the area is cordoned off.

Biker aids cops
Meantime, while the foot chase passes him, Greg Geist is astride his motorcycle, stopped at a red light on 39th at Holgate.

“I heard a gunshot, and saw a man fall,” Geist reports. “He got up and continued running, chased by a police officer. He had a semi-automatic pistol in his right hand.”
As the alleged shooter continues running in a labored jog, Geist finds himself in the dangerous position of being between the suspect and the officer, as Officer Wullbrandt ducks for cover.

The vehicle from which the gunman leaped is parked right where it was originally stopped for an unsafe lane change, in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

Watches shooter’s getaway into apartment
Geist watches the suspect hike down Holgate. Still on his bike, Geist follows the man who had the gun into an apartment complex, and notes that he enters an apartment through a particular sliding glass door.

The alert motorcyclist then returns to the intersection to give officers a detailed description of the man he followed, and points out the specific apartment the suspect had entered.

The SERT officers evacuate nearby residents. After several hours, Hostage Negotiators talk the suspect into surrendering, and he is taken into custody without incident.

Police allege this man, 24-year-old Nicholas Ramon Onuskanvich, is the person who took a couple of poorly-aimed shots at the officer.

The suspect, identified as 24-year-old Nicholas Ramon Onuskanvich, is booked into jail on an outstanding warrant for Distribution of Methamphetamine, plus ‚Äì now — one count of Attempted Aggravated Murder.

Afterward, geist called a hero
At a ceremony held on Friday, March 16, at the Portland Justice Center, Greg Geist’s actions are lauded.

At the March 16 commendation ceremony are Officer Robert Wullbrandt, Greg Geist, Police Spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz, and Portland’s Police Chief, Rosie Sizer.

Geist’s commendation reads, in part, “Without Mr. Geist’s assistance, even with a thorough canvassing of the area, the dangerous suspect might not have been found. Mr. Geist’s detailed description of the events and the suspect was a tremendous assist to all involved.”

Chief Sizer presents the Citizens Medal of Heroism to Greg Geist.

Just before she hangs a medallion around Geist’s neck, Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer says, “We all wonder, in a crisis, how we would react. Mr. Geist, you acted very well. You helped police officers in a time of real jeopardy. You helped all of us, by getting a dangerous person off the streets. And you did so, exercising good judgment and calculating the risk. I, and all of our officers, appreciate your actions that day.

“On behalf of the Portland Police Bureau, I present you with the Citizens Medal of Heroism.”

Looking somewhat overwhelmed by his tribute, Geist thanks the Portland Police Bureau for honoring him.

An unassuming champion responds
After being presented with a card from the Police Association’s Robert King, Geist steps forward.

“When I came here today, I’d hope to meet Chief Sizer to tell her how impressed I was with every police officer I came in contact on Monday. They were very professional and humane. Thank you all.”

Reporters ask Geist to show his medal.

Talking with reporters, Geist answers their questions: “No, I didn’t feel in danger. My heart raced a little bit when I saw both the officer and the gunman with their guns out. I just followed him, and kept an eye on him.”

Sharing his proud moment with fianc?©e Kim Powers, Geist confides that the couple is to be married August 4.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

No one was injured in the fire, officials say; but you’ll see the damage this conflagration caused to a home in this quiet neighborhood in outer NE Portland ‚Ķ

Neighbors say things are usually pretty quiet along the 10600 block of NE Knott St., where this fire took place.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Damage to the modest, one-story frame home in the 10600 block of NE Knott St. in Parkrose isn’t great. But, how ‚Äì and why ‚Äì the fire started concerns some area neighbors.

Youngster spots blaze
“I saw a light in front of our house,” explains Jesse Almasan, whose family lives across the street from the fire-damaged home.

“I thought it was my sister coming back from the library.” The young man continues. “I looked out the window and saw a house burning. I called my

Dad and told him to call 9-1-1 because the neighbor’s house, across the street was on fire.”

When neighbor Jesse Almasan saw fire, he made sure his dad quickly called 9-1-1.

The helpful neighbor says he could see fire burning out from the front of the house. “You could really see the flames. It’s too bad this happened. I used to mow the lawn for the lady who owns the house.”

Police arrive before firefighters
Jesse’s father, George Almasan, picks up the story: “Two police cars were here in less than two minutes, and asked if someone was in the house. It  looked as if it was empty because no cars were around it in the driveway. I thought there was someone there.”

Telling us his family has lived there for 19 years, the father adds, “l sorry for them. We got to know them. They are very nice people. It is very sad.”

Other neighbors also report seeing police cars arrive before fire units. We’re told that one individual, exhibiting signs of emotional distress, is seen being escorted out by officers.

In the chief’s words
“We have a fire in a single-family residence,” confirms Battalion Chief Chris Babcock.

One occupant was transported by ambulance to Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital, Babcock tells us on scene. “Her exact situation ‚Ķ nothing fire-related. The individual was taken to the hospital for treatment.”

Engine 12 is the first to arrive, quickly followed by an engine, truck, and rescue unit from Station 2. Crews from Stations 19 and 7 also respond to the fire.

An individual, whom neighbors say lives in the home, looks on as firefighters make sure the fire is completely out.

Word from the experts: Fire intentionally set
Although this incident remains under investigation, Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt later tells us they believe the fire was “intentionally set”.

“It may look like the home was severely damaged,” Oswalt continues, “but crews knocked down the fire in minutes. It was hot enough to burn off the PP&L power line, but the fire was contained in the carport area. The home mostly suffered only smoke damage.”

No smoke detectors
There were no smoke detectors in the home, Oswalt adds. “There’s no reason NOT to have a working smoke detector. Today’s units are reliable and inexpensive. And, we have a program that will supply ‚Äì and will even mount ‚Äì a smoke detector in a home of anyone who can’t afford one.”

To learn the conditions that apply to that offer, citizens can call the Smoke Detector Hotline at (503) 823-3752.

“One last thing,” Oswalt adds, “we’ve had several apartment fires in East Portland. Please remind tenants that the landlord is required, by law, to provide a working smoke alarm. They are also responsible for testing it on a regular basis, to ensure that it will give residents the early warning they need, in the event of a fire.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Witnesses, including an off-duty police officer, say they were surprised the elderly driver who turned in front of a rolling MAX train wasn’t killed

Portland Police NRT Officer Michael Gallagher (center, writing on the pad on the car) witnessed what he said was a grinding mix-up between the wrecked car and a MAX train.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Witnesses say it did not look like the driver of blue Dodge Astra was racing, trying to beat the MAX train to the SE 108th Ave. intersection from E. Burnside St.

Nevertheless, the heedless driver lost the contest and was struck, broadside, on the clear, dry early afternoon of March 8.

Thought she was killed
“I happened to look out the window,” says neighbor Laura MacDonald, “and couldn’t believe I was seeing a car just turn in front of the MAX train. It slammed into the car so hard, it spun it around. I thought it must’ve killed the driver for sure.”

The MAX Train coupler struck the car broadside, first in the driver’s door; then in the rear quarter-panel, as it spun it off the tracks.

Driver appears oblivious
About to start his afternoon shift, off-duty Portland Police NRT Officer Michael Gallagher was on his way from the Gateway Area Business Association meeting to East Precinct.

“I was coming south on SE 108th Avenue, waiting for traffic to clear,” Gallagher tells us on scene. She [the driver of the Dodge] was westbound on E. Burnside St. I observed her pulling into the left hand turn lane to travel south on 108th. She appeared to be oblivious to the MAX train, bearing down upon the intersection.”

Gallagher says the train indicator lights and traffic signals were operating, and the MAX train sounded the horn, then hit its brakes.

“When I got out, checking on her after the accident, I thought she’d be seriously injured ‚Äì or worse,” says Gallagher.

TriMet officials check over the MAX train; it is released to continue its westward journey.

Instead of finding a mangled driver, the officer says the heedless driver refused medical attention – and, using her four-point cane, walked away from the accident.

“It was my fault, I think,” said the elderly woman. “I didn’t see it.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service.

Eighteen hours apart, these two residential fires kept crews from Portland Fire & Rescue busy. See why one of the fires sounded “two alarms” ‚Ķ

Firefighters knew they had to quickly knock this fire down to keep it from spreading to other units of this apartment building. (Dick Harris, PF&R photo)

Story and some photos by David F. Ashton
An apartment house fire on the evening of March 2 sent the crews of eleven fire engines and five ladder trucks to the 13000 block of SE Powell Boulevard.

“On arrival,” PF&R’s John Hill reports, “they had a large amount of fire in two of the first floor apartments.”

The flames, Hill says, were leaping to the second floor of the structure, extending up to the parapet area of the roof. When the roof was ablaze ten minutes after they arrived, the Battalion Chief called for a second alarm.

“A ‘second alarm’ immediately dispatches more resources to a fire,” explains the bureau spokesperson, Lt. Allen Oswalt. “Especially with an apartment fire, we want to make sure we contain the fire, and that it doesn’t spread to other units.”

Portland crews, assisted by Gresham firefighters, quickly knocked down the blaze.

“Damage to the apartment complex was limited,” Hill says, “so that we only had two adults and one child that are going to stay with another family member.”

This fire remains under investigation.

Neighbors’ quick calls save elderly woman’s burning home

Officials say calls by neighbors brought out firefighters to investigate reports of smoke coming from this Southeast Portland home.

“We look out for each other,” says a neighbor, standing in the intersection of SE Steele St. at 57th Avenue as firefighters swirl around us. “I was concerned when I saw smoke coming from this house because an elderly lady lives there.”

The concern led her, and other neighbors, to promptly call 9-1-1 when they saw smoke coming from more than the chimney of the modest blue home on March 3.

While firefighters check on her wellbeing, neighbors gather to comfort the woman whose home is damaged by a basement fire.

Quick investigation leads to fast action
Within minutes, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 25 rolls on scene.

“Firefighters arrived to find smoke-stained windows,” Battalion Chief Erin Janssens tells us on scene. “They immediately called for ‘residential house fire response’, thus dispatching more units.”

A jet of water sprays out of a basement window, as firefighters quickly extinguish the fire, said to be located above the home’s basement ceiling.

Concerned that the occupant might be in the building, Janssens tells us, some firefighters made a complete search of the building while others looked for the source of the potential blaze.

“In the basement, they found the source of the smoke, and extinguished it,” says Janssens. “Fortunately, the occupant was out of the building.”

Lt. Greg Holsinger, from Station 25, comforts the homeowner, and gives her information regarding resources available to her.

In all, 24 firefighters responded to the incident, hailing from PF&R Stations 25, 20, 9 and 11.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why the commute into Portland — from Gresham, and points east — became a nightmare during the March 1st morning drive. The good moos: No cows were injured …

Hours after the mishap, big-rig tow trucks were still trying to right the toppled milk-carrying tanker trailer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Eastbound traffic on Interstate 84 was slow mooo-ving on March 1 because of a trucking accident.

At 5:55 am, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers, and investigators from the Traffic Division, were called to the scene of a non-injury collision on I-84 westbound near NE 122nd Avenue, involving an overturned milk truck.

Investigators contacted the driver of the truck, 36-year-old Francisco Macias. He told them he had been forced to swerve to avoid a car after it cut in front of him in traffic.

As he swerved, he struck an abandoned vehicle on the side of the roadway.  The jolt from the impact caused the load of milk to shift in the big tanker truck, with the milk’s momentum carrying the second tanker over onto its side, where it ruptured open.

The concrete Jersey Barriers on either side of the lanes contained the milk, making it easier to clean up.

Police allowed one lane of traffic to slowly make its way past the scene of udder desolation – backing up drivers past Troutdale.

On this morning, the “Milky Way” wasn’t in the heavens nor within a tanker truck ‚Äì the bovine product covered the freeway. Cats across east Portland were said to be near tears.

The milk was the property of the Milky Way Corporation of Sunnyside, Washington, but after the washdown and cleanup, they won’t be getting it back.  No one was hurt, and no citations have been issued.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland Mooos Service

Even after police used a ladder to help a woman escape from a Brentwood-Darlington home, the man involved didn’t give up. See why SE 52nd Avenue was shut down while cops lobbed canisters of tear gas into that house ‚Ķ

SE Rex Drive, west of 52nd Avenue, quickly fills with public safety workers and vehicles, when it becomes obvious that a domestic disturbance is about to escalate.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Neighbors around the house in the 4800 block of secluded SE Rex Drive say the man’s behavior wasn’t typical ‚Äì in fact he was definitely acting abnormally on March 1.

At 3:45 pm, Portland Police Bureau Southeast Precinct officers respond to a reported domestic disturbance at the home.

When we arrive on scene, we learn there is dispute between a man and a woman. The man is holding the woman against her will.

Dramatic second-story rescue
“When officers arrive,” police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us, “they learn the man threatened a female in the house with a knife; and she’s hiding in an upstairs room of the house.”

Officers work quickly to bring the woman to safety by putting a ladder up to the window, and then rescue her by pulling her through a second-story window.

It doesn’t take long from SE 52nd Avenue to turn into a parking lot filled with all kinds of emergency-response vehicles.

Makes threats instead of giving up
We note two fire engines in the area. “The man made statements he was barricading himself in the home, or was going to burn the home,” explains Schmautz.

Officers attempted to contact the troubled man, Schmautz says, but after he made several threats, officers activate the bureau’s Special Emergency Response Team (SERT).

SE 52nd Avenue, between SE Flavel Drive and SE Harney Avenue is shut down. “Public safety is our primary concern,” says a sergeant, in passing.

SE Precinct Commander Derek Foxworth (left) takes charge of the unfolding situation, and briefs Public Information Officer Sgt. Brian Schmautz on the status of the operation.

From all over the city, members of SERT roll on-scene. Soon, SE 52nd Avenue is filled with patrol cars and off-duty SERT member vehicles.

Officers “suit up” as a temporary command center is set up. They dress in Kevlar vests and camouflage jackets; check their weapons; and get ready for deployment.

SERT moves in
Using restraint typical of SERT operations we’ve observed; they don’t rush in shooting.

The heavily-armored SERT vehicle snakes its way south on SE 52nd Ave., turns west on SE Rex Drive, and moves into position near the house in which a man refuses to surrender.

Instead, the heavily armed team members quickly remove neighbors from surrounding homes and seal off the area. Then, they take positions surrounding the house. SERT K-9 teams suit up and take positions.

At the same time, trained SERT negotiators establish communication and endeavor to talk the man into surrendering.

At the Mobile Command Center, a huge RV-looking vehicle, SE Precinct Commander Derek Foxworth and the command staff listen to the negotiators and the SERT team leaders.

“If the negotiators believe that talking is fruitful, they’ll continue to talk as long as it is reasonable,” Schmautz tells us. “But when the suspect starts becoming irrational, or starts making statements leading them to believe he will cause harm to himself to the community by his actions, the commander will direct SERT to deploy gas and enter.”

Negotiations break down
As night falls on this particular rainy evening, the negotiators talk with the man, seen pacing in the house for more than an hour. But, talking doesn’t lead him to come out.

At 6:16 p.m., the sound of shells being fired can be heard ‚Äì it’s the SERT team, shooting tear gas into the house.

A few minutes later, “Pop, pop, pop” ‚Äì more shells are lobbed into the residence. “They’ll use enough tear gas or other less-lethal means to gain compliance as necessary,” Schmautz comments.

As night falls, bystanders’ eyes began to sting, as wafts of tear gas came from the house where a man was holed up.

Still, the troubled man doesn’t exit. For 40 minutes, more and more tear gas floods the residence. The man breaks a window, trying to escape the tear gas.

Finally, surrender
Just before 7:00 p.m., the man, later identified as 50-year-old Gaylon Amen, gives up and comes out.

“Amen apparently sustained some non-life threatening injuries when he broke out a window to escape the gas,” Schmautz tells us. “Amen is being transported for medical attention, and will be charged with one count of Menacing and one count of Assault in the Fourth Degree.”

Schmautz says police has little information about Amen, other than that “we’ve had some prior criminal contact with him. For whatever reason, he was having a severe episode. It could be a medication or a mental health issue.”

The police representative adds that their Domestic Violence Unit will work with the rescued woman to assure her future safety.

The mission accomplished, SERT members disperse.

Many police officers called up for this SERT mission were off duty. They stripped off their gear, got in their vehicles and returned home.

“A good mission,” a SERT officer commented to us, in passing. “Everyone’s going home safely, and perhaps this individual will get the help he needs.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See how serious home blazes caused at least one fire crew to race from one East Portland residence to another …

It took firefighters 30 minutes to put out this fire on SE 153rd Avenue. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

When duty calls, crews from Portland Fire & Rescue respond – sometimes going from one fire directly to another. Such was the case on February 23.

Outer Southeast fire
Four minutes after the call came in at 6:22 p.m., the crews from Engines 9, 45, and 73 arrive on-scene, in the 400 block of SE 153rd Avenue.

“The garage is fully involved in fire,” reports PF&R spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt.

He says the blaze started in the attached garage of a residence. “Hot coals from a fireplace ‘cleanout’, inside the garage, ignited cardboard boxes stored too close to the fireplace chimney. Embers from the fire got up into the exposed attic of the home.”

We learn from the neighbors that the family had occupied the residence for less than two months. The dollar loss from this fire has been set at $60,000.

“The family got out OK, there were no injuries,” says Oswalt. “But, there is a lot of damage to the home.”

Firefighters use an infrared detector to seek hidden flames in the walls of a home on NE 74th Ave.

Northeast blaze injures resident
Later the same evening, the fact that his burning home was a block away from Fire Station 19 may have saved the resident’s life.

Neighbors across the street say they didn’t see flames. “There was a lot of thick, dark gray and black smoke coming out of the house,” she adds. “It seemed like the fire trucks were here, instantly.”

“We’ve got a fire in a one-story wood frame house,” Battalion Chief Chris Babcock tells us on scene. “Engine 19, just a block away, was first in. Immediately, they entered the building to attack the fire. Once inside, firefighters encountered heat and heavy smoke conditions.”

Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman, Lt Doug Jones continues the story: “At the same time firefighting efforts were taking place, members of Engine 19 began to search the inside of the house for any occupants that may have been inside.”

Had it not been for the fast-acting crew of Engine 19, the resident of the burning house probably would have died in the fire. [Dick Harris, PF&R, photo]

Within moments, Jones adds, they found an unconscious 55-year-old man on a bed in a back corner bedroom of the house. “They quickly carried him outside, where firefighters & paramedics began resuscitation efforts. He’s [the resident] being transported to Emanuel Hospital; he’s reported to have a pulse and to be breathing.”

The fire victim is later reported to be in critical, but stable condition.

“We had help from Engine 9,” reports Babcock. “They had just come from the fire on 153rd.”

A small dog found outside the residence was rescued and sent to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital.

This fire was extinguished very soon after fire crews arrived, officials say.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, and is still under investigation by Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Investigators.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If he hadn’t been whipping in and out of traffic on SE 82nd Ave., this wanted probationer wouldn’t have been caught with bindles of pills ‚Äì enough to be a “walking pharmacy”. You’ll only see his story RIGHT HERE ‚Ķ

Officers search this black Acura they say was driven by a man who tried to ditch them in the neighborhood. When he finally stopped here, he tried to escape on foot. He didn’t get far ‚Ķ

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton
What makes a man speed off from a traffic stop, careen through southeast Portland neighborhoods, screech his car to a stop in front of a “troubled” house, and run until cops took him down?

Perhaps he was taking a “dose of his own medicine” ‚Äì police say he was holding enough pills to stock a pain clinic pharmacy.

A not-so-merry chase
It all starts, Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us, when a cop on patrol tries to talk with the driver of a black Acura at SE 82nd Ave. of Roses and SE Bush St. on February 22. No major infraction, we’re told–just an illegal lane change.

But, the Acura takes off, circles through the neighborhood, gets back on 82nd Ave., blows through a red light at SE Holgate Blvd., and weaves between cars, driving in the center lane, near SE Foster Rd., and then heads west. From there, the driver cuts through a parking lot, and zigzags until he ends up westbound on SE Woodstock Blvd.

“We were set up to spike-strip his tires at SE 52nd Ave.,” Sgt. Craig Mendenhall tells us on scene. “But, he cuts across the street, comes to a sudden stop, facing the traffic–here in the 6100 block of SE Woodstock Blvd.”

Ordering the suspect to stop running didn’t work. Neither did a dose of pepper spray. A Taser shot encouraged him to comply. Paramedics from Portland Fire and Rescue Truck 25 are called to check him over in the back seat of the police car.

Suspected crook won’t quit
Instead of giving up, Mendenhall says, the suspect ‚Äì clad  in a red-and-green plaid woolen jacket ‚Äì takes off on foot. A patrol car “pits” [a controlled crash, using the heavy bumper on police cars] the passenger side, to keep it closed.

“The driver got ‘Tazed’ and pepper-sprayed as he attempted to flee,” Mendenhall relates. “Bottom line is he really didn’t want to get caught.”

Officers put the items taken from the suspect on the roof of this police car. They believed some of what they found was illegal, “street” drugs.

A “walking pharmacy”
As officers pat down the uncooperative suspect, they find why he was running from them. “Officers recovered what looks like street drugs and a big wad of cash,” Mendenhall says.

“We don’t know what kind of drugs they are, without testing. It could be meth ‚Äì they’ve been putting meth into pill form. We now suspect he is a street-level dealer. He had multiple bindles of, what look like, different kinds of pills. It looks as if there are about 20 pills in a bindle.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 25 pulls up, and medic/firefighters hop out with their kits. Police policy requires that anyone who was shocked with a Tazer be medically checked out. The suspected drug-running driver is checked while in the back of a cop car.

Attention turns to “troubled house”
“We suspect the driver or passenger knows someone who lives at the house where we’re stopped,” says Mendenhall.

As officers searched the Acura, neighbors walk up and watch the unfolding situation.

A woman, who asks not to be identified, gestures to the house, in front if which the suspect stopped. “This house has a real history,” she says, raising her eyebrows.

She was joined by a neighbor who lives across the street, on the north side of Woodstock. “If I’m not mistaken, this car was parked in front of my house this morning,” he comments. “I’ve seen it here more than once, lately.”

Both neighbors agree that the house in question has had a sordid history. “Not long ago, someone died of a drug overdose in the garage,” the woman recalls.

The man said, “Lots of people come and go from this house. Sometimes, there will be several cars parked both in the driveway and up on the lawn.”  He shook his head as he walked off and remarked, “Maybe I’ve lived here too long.”

Cops say this suspect, Dylan Pardue, has three outstanding warrants, is on probation, and his driver’s license is suspended.

Shouldn’t even been driving
Sgt. Schmautz verifies the suspect is 27-year-old Dylan Pardue. “He’s a local resident.”

Pardue is known to local law enforcement and justice community; Schmautz says he has three outstanding warrants, is on probation for identity theft, and was driving on a suspended driver’s license.

Now, added to this list, Pardue is charged with Attempt to Elude; Attempt to Elude on foot; Reckless driving; Reckless Endangering; Resist Arrest; Possession of Methamphetamine; Possession of Methadone; Possession of OxyContin; Distribution of Methadone; and, Manufacture and Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Pardue’s passenger is released, after being questioned by police. “We didn’t have probable cause to take him into custody,” Mendenhall says.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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