Midnight shots outside East Precinct called ‘gang related’

UPDATED: Suspect charged as an adult. And, see what officials say about the party going on at the East Portland Community Center before the shooting, and why it wasn’t what they expected …

Police units from all over the city converge on East Precinct, after shots ring out just before midnight.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

With a heavy downpour falling on outer East Portland late on Saturday night, March 14, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct District Officer Alfonso Valadez anticipated a quiet shift as he wrote reports inside the police station.

But, moments before midnight, Valadez and other officers heard a commotion outside the building.

“Officers inside East Precinct said they heard people pounding on the front doors and windows of the Precinct,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Police close down the area, including the shopping center parking lot along SE Washington Street.

“Two officers went to the front doors of the Precinct to see what was happening outside,” Simpson continued. “Just as they opened the doors, they heard gunshots and a 17-year-old male ran inside asking for help, saying he’d been shot at by someone.”

Seconds later, Simpson said that the officers saw a teenager, armed with a handgun, fire another shot to the south, along SE 106th Avenue, as he walked by the front doors of the Precinct.

Police officers check the area for evidence.

“The suspect was walking with a large group of teens as he walked northbound toward SE Washington Street,” Simpson added.

At the peak of the incident, as many as 49 Portland Police responded to the scene, located just south of Floyd Light Middle School. Officers rolled in from Central and North Precincts, as did members of the PPB Gang Enforcement Team (GET).

Officers take shelter from the rain, under the East Precinct front awning.

Officers radioed one another, describing the shooter, and followed at a distance. “After they saw the suspect get rid of the gun, officers took him into custody,” Simpson continued. “Officers located and seized the gun, and spent shell casings, as evidence.”

The heavy rain didn’t stop the throng of “unruly teens”, as Simpson described them, from staying in the area. “Officers also worked to preserve the crime scene as well as managing the crowd. Officers located one suspected bullet strike on the front of the precinct.”

In the back of this car is 16-year-old Dontae Eugene Mathis, Jr., now accused of Attempted Murder and other charges.

The suspect, 16-year-old Dontae Eugene Mathis, Jr., was arrested and lodged at the Multnomah County Donald E. Long School (called by some the “Juvenile Detention Hall”) on charges of Attempted Murder (a Measure 11 crime), Attempted Assault in the First Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Discharging a Firearm in the City.
“GET investigators believe both the suspect and intended victim are involved with rival gangs,” Simpson said.

After dispersing the crowd, police keep SE 106th Avenue secure, to preserve the crime scene.

No violence in the Community Center reported
According to all reports, there wasn’t any fighting or violence reported during what was called a “Sweet 16 birthday party” held inside the East Portland Community Center, located to the east of East Precinct along SE 106th Avenue.

However, many community members, some of them avid supporters of the Community Center and the Bureau that operates it – Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) – asked East Portland News in the days following this event if there was, indeed, a large party held there that ended just before midnight.

Crime scene tape keeps areas secure, while the shooting investigation continues.

Says rental group ‘not truthful’ about party
East Portland News asked PP&R Public Information Officer Mark Ross to look into why the Community Center was operating so late into the evening, with such a large crowd inside the facility.

“First, let me emphasize that Saturday’s gathering was not a Parks-sponsored activity, it was a private rental,” Ross began.

“East Portland Community Center does permit gatherings after business hours; typically for high school graduation parties in late May and June.

“Despite our policies in place in regards to such parties, a major problem is that this rental group in particular, was not truthful with us – they had described a party for about 50 family and friends,” Ross continued.

In fact, an estimated 150 people attended the party, he said. Further, Ross added, all who request a permit for after-hours gatherings are required to sign contract acknowledging City noise regulations, and putting in writing the number of attendees.

Days after the incident, the East Portland Community Center quietly serves neighbors.

“If we had known the true nature of this party, we would have staffed with two supervisors and the required security personnel,” noted Ross. “When more than 75 guests are expected, we charge them extra fees for additional supervisory staff, and for on-site security provided by an approved company.”

The renters are expected to supervise the behavior of their guests, Ross went on. “They are also responsible for the proper use of any equipment by the guests, that their guests are remaining within the rental spaces, that their rental attendance does not exceed the approved number of guests.”

In closing, Ross added, “Looking forward, we will look into how to best address a gathering in a Community Center that is proceeding in an unapproved manner.”

UPDATE: Dontae Eugene Mathis Jr. charged as an adult

Dontae Eugene Mathis Jr.  MCDC booking photo

A Multnomah Country grand jury returned a nine-count indictment Mathis, charging him with attempted murder with a firearm, attempted first-degree assault with a firearm, three counts of unlawful use of a firearm, discharging a firearm in the city, and three counts of recklessly endangering another person.

On March 23, Mathis made a brief appearance in Multnomah County Juvenile Court and plead “not guilty” to the incitement’s charges. According to court records, he’s scheduled to appear before a judge on May 4.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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