NE Whitaker Way ‘riot’ not connected to college, as reported

The “riot” that caused at least 100 law officers to converge on a facility out near the airport on early Sunday morning was not a Warner Pacific College party gone bad, as some local media reported. Get the true facts here …

We were held blocks away, as 70 police and sheriff patrol cars converged on NE 122nd Avenue and NE Whitaker Way.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was 1:00 a.m. on May 11 that we heard the radio call, “All units available, come immediately to a facility at NE 122nd Avenue and NE Whitaker Way.”

It was as close to the cinematic cliche, “Calling all cars! Calling all cars!”, as we’ve ever heard while covering news in Portland.

Cars, cars, and more patrol cars – with lights and sirens on – screamed past us on NE 122nd Avenue, where we had halted, just north of the railroad overpass.

‘Near riot conditions’
“East Precinct officers responded to 12245 NE Whitaker Way regarding a loud party,” explained Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz. When officers pulled up, Schmautz said, they saw fights both inside and outside the party, and numerous intoxicated people including several who were minors. The manager of the party agreed to work with officers to shut the party down.

“As officers were telling people to leave, some people became hostile towards the police,” Schmautz continued. “Supervisors called for all available cover, and teams of officers attempted to break up fights. Some individuals agreed to leave, but others began throwing bottles and large cans of beer at the police.”

By the time we arrived in the area, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies, Portland Police Bureau patrol cars from all precincts, and even a car from the Milwaukie Police Department, were responding to the call.

When we asked how many officers converged on the scene of what radio calls described as “riot conditions”, Schmautz told us that, because of the early morning hour of the disturbance, “I am unable to determine the exact number of officers that arrived at the scene, but there were about 70 officers working, at the time East Precinct officers asked for more backup.”

Officials at Warner Pacific College forwarded this invitation to the party that ended up as a drunken brawl not connected with their school.

Claims it was a Warner Pacific College party
Once the crowd dispersed, Schmautz added, the organizers told officers that they rented the basketball court for a graduation party for Warner Pacific students. “They said they tried to provide security and check bags, but some people entered through the side doors and organizers became overwhelmed. Organizers also said they tried to break up fights before officers arrived.”

“We’ve investigated the claim made to police that this event was associated with Warner Pacific College,” said Andria Cook, the school’s VP for Institutional Advancement. “This was not an official function of the college. It was neither sanctioned nor supported by the college.”

Police gave college officials the names of the party-gone-bad’s organizers. “We’ve checked,” Cook told us in an interview this week, “and those individuals were not – and never have been – students here. Those arrested were not, nor have ever been, Warner Pacific students.”

Distant connection to the college
We asked Cook if any of the college’s students had attended the party.

“From what we’ve found out, a very few of our students attended the party. They left before anything happened,” stated Cook.

“One of the organizers mentioned the college’s name. We found that one of our students’ cousins was helping out with the party. The connection to the college was that distant.”

Does this look like a recreational facility to you? Yet, tenants in this building confirmed there is a for-rent basketball court in the back building – behind the razor wire-topped fence.

Looking for the scene
We went back in the daytime, the following day, to survey the scene. We couldn’t find a commercial gymnasium.

We did locate the street address where Sgt. Schmautz said the near-riot took place. Several smaller office buildings fronted larger warehouse buildings in a back lot. The back warehouse area, identified as Alpine Courier Inc., was gated, with razor wire at the top.

A woman who works in an office in the front of the complex said that there is a separate basketball court facility in the back of the property that is rented out.

The woman, who declined to be identified, said she’s frequently seen a number of kids in the facility. “In fact my nephew had a party there once. It was clean and nice, and we didn’t think there’d be any problem. But this – it seems frightening.”

The following individuals were arrested by police in connection with this “riot”:

  • 20 -year old Ramon Dimas-Ambriz for Riot, Disorderly Conduct, and Attempted Assault in the Fourth Degree.
  • 22-year-old Alonzo Dupree for Riot, Disorderly Conduct, and Interfering with a Police Officer.
  • 18-year-old Dominique Durisko-Caoile for Disorderly Conduct, Interfering with a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest.
  • 20-year-old Fred Marlow for Disorderly Conduct, and Interfering with a Police Officer.
  • 20-year-old Walteron Coxeff for Interfering with a Police Officer.
  • 17-year-old Sheqouya Payton-Simmons for Riot, Disorderly Conduct, Interfering with a Police Officer, and Resisting Arrest.
  • 19-year-old Vincent Green for Disorderly Conduct, and Interfering with a Police Officer.

“No one was seriously injured, and other than a deployment of pepper spray, officers did not use any lethal or other non-letal forms of restraint,” Schmautz said.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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