Double homicide rocks Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood

Dispute over a cell phone programming card apparently led to the shooting deaths of a mother and son, a witness says …

Down the hill from the murder scene, police cars block of SE Harold Street, allowing only homicide detectives into the area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Folks in this part of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood are saying that foreclosed and abandoned homes along SE Harold Street, near SE 136th Avenue, have attracted a “rough element” into what was once a solid, working-class neighborhood.

A man, reportedly firing off a shotgun in the middle of the street, caught the attention of neighbor Ken Criswell on May 5 about 9:15 p.m. “I thought it was fireworks at first. But when I looked down the street, I saw a lot of commotion, and heard people yelling,” Criswell said. “Then, the cop cars started coming in from all over the place.”

To the south of the location, at SE 138th Avenue at SE Ramona Street, an officer informs a driver that the area is closed to all traffic – possibly for hours.

Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct district officers rolled into the area to find a chaotic scene, a sergeant later told East Portland News. Officers closed down roads – few of them are through streets in this area, near the Springwater Trail – to contain the situation, and perhaps also the gunmen.

This man, 20-year-old William Cole McCamman, is arrested at the scene, minutes after law enforcement officers flood into the area (MCDC booking photo.) The image to the right is from McCamman’s Facebook page.

Police found their suspect, later identified as 20-year-old William Cole McCamman, within minutes of arriving on the scene. Official records show he was taken into custody at 9:24 p.m.

“Following the autopsy conducted by the Oregon State Medical Examiner,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King, “the deceased have been identified 32-year-old Josh Smith, and his mother 54-year-old Tamara Smith. The manner and cause of death of the victims was gunshot wounds.”

Police provided no information, and an unidentified male refused comment when East Portland News stopped by the house the following day.

As the investigation continues late into the night, police keep the area sealed off.

But, a young man who said he also lived in the home, eyewitness 19-year-old Giovanni Jorgensen, spoke freely with a KGW-TV reporter. He stated that a fight broke out between himself and Josh Smith over a stolen cell phone SIM card – an electronic device that programs it to operate with a given carrier’s system.

Jorgensen further asserted that McCamman took his side in the escalating argument, and moments later, McCamman shot Smith on the home’s front lawn with a pistol. When Smith’s mother, Tamara Smith, blocked the doorway and called the police, Jorgensen said McCamman put down the pistol, grabbed a shotgun, and fired.

The area, marked with crime scene tape, is visible even from some distance.

On May 7, McCamman appeared in Multnomah County Court and faced two counts of aggravated murder. Records show he remains in custody, without bail, at the Multnomah County Detention Center.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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