Hostage-taker shot at 82nd Avenue motel

Here’s why this troubled man was already known to police before the tragic outer East Portland incident …

Waiting for the SERT team to arrive, officers quickly make public safety plans as the hostage incident unfolds in the Lents neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When two men started scuffling in the 7-Eleven store on the corner of SE Flavel Street and 82nd Avenue of Roses, the clerk was alarmed and called the 9-1-1 center for help, at about 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, October 10.

According to witness accounts, one man – later identified as 30-year-old Samuel E. Rice – pulled out a knife and tried to stab the other man before leaving the store and running across the street to the Del Rancho Motel, at 7622 S.E. 82nd Avenue.

More Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers meantime were sent to another call – this one at that motel, at 9:11 a.m., concerning what was reported as a potentially violent domestic dispute.

Dozens of police units arrive at the hostage incident in a motel on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Arriving officers learned that Rice was in a room at the motel, holding a woman hostage. “As officers attempted to contact the suspect, the suspect threatened the life of the woman inside the motel room,” recounted PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Burley.

The Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) were activated, and came to the scene. SE 82nd Avenue of Roses was shut down to traffic as 28 police units rolled in.

Room by room, officers escorted other motel guests to safety, as the SERT officers set up around the building.

Just to the right of Portland Police Officer Jerry Higginbotham, a tense situation develops.

At some point in the negotiation with Rice, whom witnesses told reporters continued to threaten the life of the woman held hostage, a SERT officer fired at the suspect, dropping him to the ground.

With the hostage thus freed, and throughout the day, PPB Homicide Detectives, assisted by the East County Major Crimes Team, and later, representatives of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, investigated the incident.

After the hostage-taker is shot, officers make sure the street is secure.

“The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Rice died of a gunshot wound,” Burly later confirmed.

“Investigators have learned the Police Bureau had previously contacted Rice multiple times, and recently the Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit attempted to link Rice and his girlfriend to services,” Burley said. “Officers have transported Rice to area hospitals on multiple occasions in the past for treatment of perceived mental illness.”

Officials say this man, Samuel E. Rice, had long been troubled with mental illness. He was shot while threatening to kill a hostage he’d taken with a knife.

“Although Rice had refused the Behavioral Health Unit’s assistance, the officers provided Rice’s care providers with information about his recent behavior,” Burley reported.

As the investigation continues, the officer who fired the shot at the hostage-taker has been placed on paid administrative leave, as is standard procedure, until the conclusion of the investigation, said Burley.

The incident is expected to be reviewed by a Grand Jury, tentatively scheduled to meet in mid to late November.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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