Divorce plan leads to Powellhurst-Gilbert murder-suicide

Find out why SERT members made an aggressive entry to this outer East Portland town house apartment unit, shortly after police officers first arrived …

The day after the tragic incident, the Amber Court Apartments, located just south of SE Division Street off SE 141st Avenue, are quiet.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This story started out when Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers were called to Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood apartment for a “welfare check” at about 5:30 p.m. on June 27. Ithad a tragic ending.

What officers didn’t know at that time was that one of the residents, 42-year-old Maria Soumphonpackdy, had filed for divorce from 60-year-old Jack Soumphonpackdy just 48 hours before the deadly events that transpired that evening.

Some of the first Portland Police Bureau units arrive at the scene.

“Officers arrived, based on information that there could be an injured woman – wounded in a shooting – inside the apartment,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson at the scene. “Officers entered the apartment to rescue the victim, and to get her to immediate medical aid.”

But, as the officers were beginning to search the apartment, Simpson said they’d heard a gunshot inside the residence. “The officers were unable to determine where the shot came from, so they backed out and immediately called for the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) and Crisis Negotiators Team (CNT) to respond to the scene.”

Police SERT armored units prepare to drive into apartment complex.

Portland Fire & Rescue crews stand by, in case they’re needed.

SE Division Street was closed off to traffic as crews from Portland Fire & Rescue and AMR ambulances rolled up, soon followed by SERT tactical vehicles.

Repeated telephone calls to the cell phones and land lines associated with the apartment of interest, placed by Crisis Negotiators, just went to voice mail.

An AMR ambulance comes to the scene.

About 150 bystanders had gathered outside the zone marked off by yellow police tape on SE Division Street at SE 142nd Avenue, by the time East Portland News made through heavy rush-hour traffic and arrived at the scene.

The sound of several loud reports issued from the direction of the three-story townhouse buildings as they launched CS teargas; the especially-loud explosions signaled that SERT officers had also shot “flash-bang” devices into the unit.

“Due to the concern over the welfare of the victim, SERT launched several tear-gas rounds into the residence, and immediately entered the premises to rescue the victim.”

When tear-gas wafts across SE Division Street, bystanders cover their faces and move, as the vapors burn their eyes and singe their throats.

Within a moment, a cloud of tear-gas drifted toward to the northeast. Both media reporters and the bystanders coughed and rubbed their eyes, and walked this way and that, trying to escape the burning, stinging gas.

“SERT officers located the female victim and a male, both deceased, inside the residence,” Simpson told reporters later that evening.

The PPB Mobile Precinct rolls into the scene to serve as the on-scene command center.

PPB Homicide detectives and Criminalists from the Forensic Evidence Division established and took over the crime scene, and began conducting their investigation.

The following day, Simpson said that the Oregon State Medical Examiner had learned that Maria Soumphonpackdy died of multiple gunshot wounds after her husband, 60-year-old Jack Soumphonpackdy, shot her with a handgun.
“Jack Soumphonpackdy then turned the gun on himself and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Simpson said. “No officers fired guns during this incident.”

PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson briefs reporters at the scene.

“Domestic violence is among the most frequent and serious forms of violent crime investigated by police,” Simpson later said. “If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence or are concerned that domestic violence may be an issue, help is available.” Specifically:

Domestic Violence Resources

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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