Gang gunfire erupts at Rosewood Center

This violence, at this outer East Portland place dedicated to neighborhood peace, has disturbed many …

The Rosewood Community Center, an outreach of the Rosewood Initiative, focuses on increasing community safety and understanding.

Photos and story by David F. Ashton

More than two dozen gunshots rang out, wounding four known victims – on Saturday, March 12, at the Rosewood Community Center, 16126 SE Stark Street.

“There was shooting and screaming, and people running all around,” recalled Jamie Lopez, who said he was waiting for a bus when the violence occurred at about 10:30 p.m. that evening.

“One ambulance came into the parking lot, but a bunch of cars left before the police arrived,” Lopez told East Portland News.

Police officers look for evidence, after numerous gunshots spray the area around the Rosewood Community Center in outer East Portland.

“Investigators have learned that there was a birthday party at the community center when a fight started between rival criminal gang associates,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“Officers located one gunshot victim, who was transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital; the victim’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening,” Simpson added.

As the investigation began, reports started coming in from area hospitals that two additional gunshot victims had arrived at their Emergency Departments. Later that evening, another wounded person came to yet another hospital’s Emergency Room.

One gunshot victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance, others were driven to hospitals by friends, in private vehicles.

Officials are not releasing the names of those wounded, due to the ongoing investigation, but they included:

  • A 15-year-old female, who was transported by ambulance from the scene to a Portland hospital for treatment.
  • A 20-year-old male and a 17-year-old male, who arrived by private car at a Portland hospital for treatment.
  • A 19-year-old male, who arrived by private car at a Southwest Washington hospital for treatment.

Police continue an investigation they say is “gang related”.

No arrests have been made in the case, and there is not yet any suspect information to share with the public.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Detective Jeff Pontius at 503-823-2081, jeffery.pontius@portlandoregon.gov; or, Detective Todd Teats at 503-823-2137, todd.teats@portlandoregon.gov.

The day after shooting, this bullet hole, and an evidence marker, remain visible at the location.

Rosewood reaches out to community
The day after the shooting, Rosewood Initiative Executive Director Jenny Glass sent out an e-mail message to the community, partners, and supporters, saying, in part, “We had a shooting last night at a private event we were hosting at our center. Three young people were shot with no life-threatening injuries.

“We are grateful that, in the face of this terrifying incident, everyone is OK. Thank you to everyone that has reached out with support, and for our first responders in the Portland Police Bureau, Gresham Police Department, and gang outreach workers.

“The Rosewood Initiative exists to empower and connect our community to make positive change. We recognize that this event is a reflection of the unfortunate violence that is embedded in our community and our culture. This senseless act exemplifies why the work we are doing is so important and so urgent.

“We will be taking the next few days to reflect together as a community, and team with our many partners, to heal together – and to also take a hard look at our policies and procedures for hosting private events.

“Our center will continue to be open, serving our community with positive activities for Rosewood families. We invite you to join us, to build an ever-stronger force of love in the community.”

On Monday, March 14, the Community Center was closed. Inside the locked doors, Rosewood staff and board members met to discuss the occurrence, and to re-examine their policies.

As a long-time supporter of Rosewood since its inception, East Portland News hopes that positive directions can arise from this incident.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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