Gun violence continues in outer East Portland

Two days apart: A triple homicide rattles Russell neighbors; and a man is shot in Hazelwood, as gun violence continues …

In the Russell neighborhood of outer East Portland, police close NE 122nd Avenue while they investigate what turns out to be a triple homicide.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

As gun violence in outer East Portland continues to increase in our neighborhoods, so does the fear of homicidal crime, perpetrated by criminals with weapons.

On July 17, and again in July 19, shots led to more killing and wounding, leaving members of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Homicide Division detectives and East Precinct officers struggling to keep up with their case load.

Triple murder in Russell

An officer guards the parameter of the crime scene, while Homicide Division detectives arrive and begin an investigation.

“See that house over there – the one with the ‘bus’ in the front yard – that’s where the murders were,” pointed out Russell neighbor Scott Ramsley.

He was pointing to a house on the east side of the 2500 block of NE 122nd Avenue, between Brazee and Russell Streets, on Saturday afternoon, July 18. “I heard three people were shot to death there on Friday night,” he remarked to East Portland News.

“I think we got great cops; I can’t figure out why the mayor [Ted Wheeler] has ‘handcuffed’ them when it comes getting guns out the hands of crooks,” commented Ramsley.

Indeed, Mr. Ramsley had “heard” correctly; PPB officers had been dispatched to the house on July 17 at 10:02 p.m., looking into what was initially reported as a disturbance.

Investigators gather at the scene of a triple homicide.

“Officers secured the scene and discovered three individuals deceased,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Greg Pashley.

PPB Homicide detectives and Forensics Division workers arrived, as officers closed down that stretch of NE 122nd Avenue.

“The victims were identified as 77 year old Lawrence Murphy, 45 year old Elmer E. Hughes, and 40 year old Tashia Cobb,” Pashley said. “The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office determined all three died from homicidal violence resulting from gunshot wounds.”

Facing numerous Felony charges, including three for Homicide, is 58-year-old Brett Edward Pruett. MCDC booking photo

It’s not known how detectives located the suspect – identified as 58-year-old Brett Edward Pruett – whom they arrested without incident  in northeast Portland on July 18.

For reasons unknown, Pruett wasn’t booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) until 10:34 p.m. on the following day, July 19, on three counts of murder.

On July 20, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill revealed additional charges.

Court documents show that not only is Pruett charged with three counts of murder in the first degree, he’s also charged with three counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of burglary in the first degree, and one count of assault in the second degree with a firearm.

According to the charging instrument, Pruett intentionally caused the death of three individuals during the same criminal episode, and it alleges that Pruett, a convicted felon, used a firearm during the commission of these crimes.

Furthermore, the charging document alleges that on July 16, Pruett used a deadly and dangerous weapon to intentionally cause physical injury to an adult female prior to the triple homicide.

During his arraignment, Pruett learned that one charge of Unlawful Use of a Weapon had been “released” – but that he would face the other charges. Pruett remains lodged in the MCDC, being held, without bail, on the three murder charges.

Hazelwood shooting wounds man

Little is known about the shooting incident that brings police to the Hazelwood neighborhood.

On July 19, at 12:42 a.m. officers were dispatched to the scene of this shooting, along NE 122nd Avenue, just north of NE Glisan Street.

“Upon arrival, officers found an adult male gunshot victim; officers secured the scene, and provided the victim medical attention,” said PPB spokesperson Pashley. “The gunshot victim was transported by ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.”

While investigating the crime scene, officers found that an apartment, fortunately vacant, had also been struck by gunfire. “There is no suspect information,” added Pashley.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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