East Portland gang shooting wounds child

Officials say this youngster was accidentally caught in the line of fire when gangsters sprayed this Powellhurst-Gilbert apartment complex …

A Portland Police Bureau officer stands guard just outside the Laurel Place Apartments, located in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, after a hail of bullets shatter windows and injure a young boy.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A refreshing dip in the Laurel Place Apartments pool for a five-year-old boy turned tragic just before 9:00 p.m. on July 8.

Residents and visitors ran, or ducked for cover, when the sound of multiple gunshots rang out in the apartment complex south of SE Powell Boulevard at SE 125th Place.

A witness says two suspects ran from the apartments into this field, before they were picked up in a white car.

“I saw two dark-skinned-looking guys – they looked like gang members to me – running out and [north] across the street,” recounted resident Willie Baxter, who added that he had cautiously observed their path, at a distance.

“It looked like they ran between the Mexican barbecue and the tavern, into the field behind,” Baxter told East Portland News. “Then, they cut [west] and got into a white car.”

Officers and detectives talk with witnesses and neighbors after the shooting.

The wounded boy’s grandfather, Byron Brown, Sr., told reporters that the youngster was visiting them so he could play in the pool. When the shots were fired, and his grandson was shot in the thigh as he ran from the pool toward his grandparent’s apartment.

As the family awaited the arrival of paramedics, neighbors gave first aid to the wounded child by applying a tourniquet to his leg – an act that first responders say might just have saved his life.

“No other shooting victims have been identified at this time; however, rounds also struck nearby apartments,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Greg Stewart.

Police Bureau’s Gang Enforcement Team responds to the shooting, as do many police officers.

“Investigators believe this incident is gang-related, and the Gang Enforcement Team responded to investigate the shooting,” Stewart said.

Madeline Nichols wondered aloud, as she waited to return to her apartment in the outer East Portland complex, “I wonder what’s going to happen next here?”

She was referring to the deadly shooting at the apartment complex that took place on November 1, 2013. [To read that story, CLICK HERE.]

“Overall this is a really nice place to live,” Nichols said. “The neighbors are nice and I like my apartment – but maybe it’s time for me to move.”

An officer looks for evidence, including shell casings.

As Nichols waited and watched, PPB Gang Enforcement Team and Gun Task Force members looked for evidence. PPB Criminalists arrived, and started setting out yellow evidence markers indicating the location of the many bullet shell casings left behind.

Later, Stewart said that the gunshot had caused non-life-threatening injuries to the child, and he was recovering in a local hospital.

Officers and detectives work late into the night, looking for clues in a shooting case they call “gang related”.

In response to ongoing violence in the community, Stewart said the Bureau and will be initiating OPERATION COOL DOWN this weekend.

“This event will include enhanced patrols by the Portland Police Bureau Gang Enforcement Unit, supported by other Police Bureau resources, as well as the Gresham East County Metro Gang Enforcement Team, Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, and the Office of Youth Violence Prevention,” Stewart said.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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