Cleveland High student with ‘star potential’ slain in Brentwood neighborhood street

Officials are saying little about this killing, the most recent SE Portland homicide. Find out what we learned – and see exclusive photos at the scene – right here …

Although the victim was known for wearing gym and other closed-toe shoes, some reports say 17-year-old Fernando Chavez kicked off the sandals (lower right side of photo) he was wearing as he chased the man officials say shot and killed him, minutes later.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In the wee hours of June 6, at about 3:30 a.m., a shot rang out in the 5500 block of SE Knapp Street, in the Brentwood Darlington neighborhood. 17-year-old Fernando Chavez, a junior at Cleveland High School, fell to the pavement.

Minutes later, when officers arrived, they found his lifeless body.

“It’s been pretty quiet here,” Henrietta Johnston, who said she was a long-time resident, told us that afternoon. “The bang was so loud, it woke me up. I thought it was a firecracker. Then I heard people screaming, and the police started arriving.”

Portland Police Bureau detectives continue to gather and catalog evidence at the crime scene.

Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Special Emergency Response Team officers swarmed the scene, looking for the shooter. The street was closed off throughout the day as detectives searched for the gunman. That evening, Sgt. Michael Marshman, Executive Officer for Services Branch, Chief’s Office, Portland Police Bureau announced that detectives arrested 30-year-old Thomas H. Konschuh, Jr. for the crime.

Very little official information available
Marshman stated, “Detectives are still investigating this crime – and the events that led up to the shooting, as well as other information, cannot be released at this time.”

Days later, PPB spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat said she could nether confirm or deny widely reported media accounts coming from family members, friends, and neighbors. “Detectives typically wait until the Grand Jury hearing before releasing information,” she told us.

An article posted on the Portland Public Schools official website referenced the unofficial accounts of the incident as reported by the media.

In this account, Fernando Chavez’s school counselor at Cleveland High School, Anthony Scribner, said that, although he’d only known him for a short time, Chavez had made a positive impression on him.

Officials say this young man, 17-year-old Fernando Chavez, was deceased when officers arrived – but refuse further comment on the case. Portland Public Schools photo

‘A stand-up kind of guy’
In a subsequent interview with EastPDXNews, Scribner told us, “The only I can describe this is as a sad, sad loss.”

About the events that took place that night, Scribner said he understood that a person was seen outside the home where Chavez resided in SE Portland.

“I’ve been asked if I was surprised that Fernando chased the intruder,” Scriber stated. “Actually, I would be surprised if he hadn’t done so. He was the kind of person that, who, if his guardian mother was threatened, there would be no stopping him.”

These days, Scribner went on, many people would say it’s a bad idea to leave one’s home when a potential criminal is nearby. “But, the only action I could see him taking, is heading out the door. He’d be running out, not being angry or mean-spirited, but to protect those he cares about. He was a stand-up kind of guy.”

Officers from Central Precinct join those from Southeast and East Precinct as they seal off a 10-block perimeter.

Dedicated to sports
Scribner said Chavez had attended Franklin High School for about two and a half years before coming to Cleveland, mid-term. “Usually when a student transfers in mid-year, I don’t really get a chance to know them. But, he wanted to succeed; he sought out my advice about how to work out his classes. And, he loved football. We were working it out for him to play football next year.”

One of Chavez’s favorite school periods was weight training, Scribner said.

“His instructor, Kendra Gardner, told me he influenced his classmates to commit to ‘stepping up a notch’ and training harder,” related Scribner. “This goes back to his wanting to be a success on the football field. Gardner told me he was proud of the heavy weight he lifted on Friday (June 5) – that he didn’t put it away, wanting all to see it, and to inspire others. It was still out, on Monday when classes resumed – a silent testimony to his will to succeed.”

The Mobile Precinct blocks off SE Knapp Street as detectives look for evidence and interview witnesses after the shooting.

‘Destined for success’
His counselor characterized Chavez with a string of positive adjectives: “Friendly, respectful, polite, smart, focused, and connected with people well. You liked him immediately. He had good grades; and when something ‘wasn’t working’, he’d come back, check in, and get advice. In five months, he had a positive impact on Cleveland – by the time he would have graduated [next year], he would have made a big positive impact.”

In addition to his studies and sports, Scribner noted that Chavez also had a job at a nearby restaurant. “I think it was at La Bamba, at SE 49th Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard.”

Later in the day, with their investigation completed, officers and detectives leave the scene.

In summary, Scribner told us that Chavez was a young man destined for success. “He would have gone places. The expectation for him is that he would have been a great success later in his life.”

According to an article in the Tri-City Herald newspaper, his parents said that Chavez – who was a Pasco, Washington, native – wanted to be an architect.

Officials say that the accused – 30-year-old Thomas H. Konschuh, Jr., described as being 6 feet 2 inches tall, and 210 pounds – was booked on two felony charges: Murder and Attempted Aggravated Murder. MCSO booking photo

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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