Brentwood-Darlington teen gunned down in Hazelwood

Why this David Douglas High School grad was out at night near his alma mater is unexplained. What is known is that his death left all who knew him in shocked disbelief …

Looking south on SE 135th Avenue from Lincoln City Park, police start their investigation into the shooting death of Larry Ma, who had graduated from David Douglas High School, just a few blocks north of the crime scene.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The sudden death of 18-year-old Larry Ma, a Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood resident who had recently graduated from David Douglas High School as an inter-district transfer student, remains a tragic mystery.

No one has come forward to say why Ma was driving his Mercedes SLK roadster on SE 135th Avenue near Lincoln City Park, about 5.5 miles distant from his home on SE 62nd Avenue south of SE Duke Street, a little after 10:00 p.m. on July 20.

Police officers share information after they seal SE 135th Avenue at SE Mill Street.

Outer East Portland resident Albert Bixler said he heard loud reports that didn’t sound like fireworks that evening, at his home just south of the park. “It was rapid series of bangs – it seemed like five or six of them.”

Another neighbor said that when he heard the commotion, he went out and saw a car in his neighbor’s front yard, with a person inside who was “slumped over from the driver’s side into the passenger side.”

The car had what he described as bullet holes along the driver’s side of the car.

Looking north on SE 135th Avenue, the PPB Mobile Precinct drives in, providing a work space for the detectives and criminalists called to the crime scene.

After checking with detectives, Portland Police spokesman Lt. Robert King briefs reporters on the shooting.

Soon, SE 135th Avenue was cordoned off from SE Mill Street south to SE Sherman Street. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Mobile precinct rolled in, and set up just north of SE Sherman, as detectives and criminalists came into the area.

At first, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King said that the police were called to the scene at 10:20 p.m., where “Officers found a man shot. Medical personnel responded, and transported the victim to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.”

Officers follow up on a lead near SE 139th Avenue near SE Taylor Street.

At the same time, other officers and command staff were massing on SE 139th Avenue near SE Taylor Street on reports that the gunman may have ducked into a residence just north of that intersection.

“Those reports turned out to be false, but with the potential of a person with a gun in the neighborhood, we always  check out all leads as quickly as possible,” later reported Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Soon after Lt. King met with reporters, the crime scene perimeter was moved south to SE Division Street, because the area where officials had started investigating a shooting had become a murder scene – Ma died soon after arriving at OHSU.

“Detectives have learned that the victim, Larry Ma, was shot while seated in his car somewhere north of where officers found him on 135th Avenue,” Lt. King later stated. “Detectives believe that the victim was shot, and then drove his car southbound for a few blocks before crashing into a yard of a home at 2214 SE 135th Avenue.”

The reported resident of this home replants the roses uprooted when Ma’s car came to rest in the corner of her front yard – where a makeshift memorial has now been erected.

The reported homeowner, Linda Asburry, walked away when we attempted to speak with her; but she told media that the car that had knocked down the front-yard fence of her ranch-style home had been “riddled with bullets”, and the man inside “appeared badly wounded”.

“At this time, detectives are unable to determine if the shooting is gang or drug related,” King said. “Detectives do not believe this was a drive-by shooting. The Oregon State Medical Examiner determined that Ma died of a gunshot wound.”

Posters and writing on the garage door of his Brentwood Darlington home express the loss Larry Ms’s friends feel.

Mourners visit Larry Ma’s home where a candlelight vigil is held.

As the sun set over Ma’s modest family home on June 21, more than 100 mourners – many of them fellow DDHS students – stood in shocked disbelief of the violent death of what many of them described as “the happiest guy I knew”. Based on many accounts, he was said to be an ideal student who got along with everyone.

One of Ma’s neighbors, who said he lives a couple doors down from the family, said he’d often see young people gathering at the home, but he never saw the parents.

Larry Ma shows off his break-dancing prowess at a DDHS all-school event welcoming State Superintendent Susan Castillo on May 13. East Portland News archive photo

As detectives continued their investigation, speaking with family members and friends, an informal memorial was appearing where Ma’s car came to rest. Two young ladies got out of a car that stopped nearby, tidied up the site, and tenderly ran her fingers through a DDHS high school graduation tassel hung on his photograph before leaving.

After paying their respects, these young ladies leave the 135th Ave. memorial.

Contact police if you have information that can help them solve the murder of Larry Ma.

Detectives would like to hear from anyone who has any information about this shooting, or about Ma’s activities in the days prior to his death. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Detective Rico Beniga at (503) 823-0457 or

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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