No let-up: Five more shootings in outer East Portland this week

Read an eyewitness report – from a person caught in the middle of a midday shooting in the Russell neighborhood, which included a car chase, and left two men wounded …

Guns, fired by criminals – shooting bullets that tear into people and property, in the outer East Portland neighborhoods of Centennial, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Hazelwood, and Russell – bring Portland Police Bureau officers out to investigate.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

For months, East Portland News has been covering the increasingly frequent incidents of criminals shooting guns in our area. It is not lost on us that these incidents skyrocketed within a day of Portland’s Commissioner of Police disbanding the Portland Police “Gun Violence Reduction Team”.

Although not directly involved or impacted by these shootings, witnesses in and around the area of these shootings have consistently expressed their shock and dismay to us about the unrelenting shootings; how it makes them feel unsafe in their homes, their neighborhoods, and their businesses.

Read on, you’ll learn what it was like to look, face-to-face, at a gunman whose intent was committing murder, in broad daylight.

Week starts off with multiple shootings

The week started off with multiple shootings in two days – including this one, leaving behind a superfluity of evidencePPB provided image

Documented shooting incidents in outer East Portland began on Sunday, and continued into the week. Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officials had provided few details about the first three, other than stating, “As of now no injuries have been reported in connection with these incidents.”

  • Centennial neighborhood – December 6 at 2:11 a.m., a shooting near SE 170th Avenue and Division Street.
  • Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood – December 6 at 9:05 p.m., officers responded to shots fired in the residential area of the 3100 block of SE 136th Avenue.
  • Hazelwood neighborhood – December 7 at 1:07 a.m. a “shots fired” call sent officers to investigate on East Burnside Street, near NE 131st Avenue.


December 8
Car-to-car shootout, in Russell neighborhood

In the full light of day, criminals fire bullets here, along NE 122nd Avenue, apparently without thought or care about who, other than their intended targets, they might injure or kill.

On December 8 at 11:10 a.m. PPB East Precinct, Traffic Division, and Assault Division detectives were called to a shooting incident that left dozens of bullet casings along NE 122nd Avenue, and just around the corner, on NE Halsey Street.

18 officers responded to the dispatch, and flooded the area within minutes; eventually the PPB Mobile Command Center also turned up there, as the investigation began.

As noontime approaches, the intersection of NE 122nd Avenue and Halsey Street is closed as the shooting investigation unfolds. It stays closed to traffic until dark.

Eyewitness to a shooting
An uninvolved motorist who was caught – stopped, waiting for a light – on NE Halsey Street at 122nd Avenue, as a car-to-car shooting unfolded at about 11:00 a.m. – spoke freely and exclusively with East Portland News, on the condition that they not be identified in any way.

The person said they were westbound on NE Halsey Street, and had moved into the left hand turn lane, behind a blue Honda CR-Z coupe – both cars preparing to turn southbound, onto NE 122nd Avenue.

“As we waited for the left hand turn signal, a blue Honda Odyssey SXT minivan – with no license plates – careened around the corner, from northbound NE 122nd Avenue, turning right onto eastbound Halsey Street at a high rate of speed.

One of the first-arriving PPB units is pulled up behind the Honda Odyssey SXT minivan, thought to be the intended target of the shooter.

“The front of the Odyssey crashed into the front and driver’s side door of the CR-Z, pinning it against a large petroleum tanker truck next to it, also stopped for the traffic signal along NE Halsey Street,” the witness described.

Why the minivan was being so recklessly driven soon became clear, the witness said. “A beige or light-colored car followed the Odyssey around the corner. It appeared as if a person in the passenger seat of that car was shooting at the Odyssey,” the witness told us.

“I thought I’d heard some fireworks before the minivan came around the corner; but when the car came behind it, I heard very loud gunshots, and the sound of bullets ricocheting off the pavement and the car.”

The minivan swung around the corner so fast that it hit the sedan hard enough to push it out of its lane, and into a fuel tanker truck stopped next to it.

Looks into the eyes of a killer
“The driver of the beige car paused, right next to me – I saw his expression of anger and rage as we were face-to-face through our windows for a moment – and then, he looked into the Odyssey before speeding off, eastbound, on NE Halsey Street,” the witness related.  “I think the passenger of the Odyssey was slumped down in the seat; the driver was able to get his door open, and limp away, looking as if he’d been shot in the foot or leg.”

Officers marked out the location of six bullet shell casings just feet away from where the Odyssey crashed; and a couple of yards away from the witnesses’ car.

“What really struck me was that both the victims and shooters weren’t kids, but in their mid to late 20s,” the witness said. “And, I can still picture the crazed look of hatred in the face of the shooter’s car driver.”

This is where a bullet ripped through the front quarter panel of the witness’s car, and tore into the engine compartment – just inches away from the driver.

After the witness eventually noticed a bullet hole in the their own vehicle’s driver side front quarter panel, the witness brought it to the attention of officers. A PPB Forensics Division crime scene investigator dug around inside the engine compartment, but found only fragments of the bullet.

“They’ve gotten rid of the Police Bureau’s ‘gang team’ and the ‘gun violence reduction’ squad, so, I guess the Mayor just dismisses this carnage that they call ‘gun violence’ – it’s not gun violence; it’s violence committed by criminals,” the witness bitterly observed, after being released by detectives.

“Had I been killed or maimed in this shooting, [Mayor] Wheeler would have had blood on his hands, don’t you think?” the witness rhetorically asked.

At least 13 bullet holes perforate the passenger side of the Honda Odyssey; and all three passenger-side windows are shattered or broken by bullets.

Apparently, the shooting began on NE 122nd Avenue, about a block south of Halsey Street – almost in front of the Adventist Medical Plaza, just north of NE Wasco Street. A dozen or more evidence markers were placed at the locations of bullet shell casings in that area.

The driver of the CR-Z said he was okay, and not injured – either in the crash, or from bullets.

Fortunately, wild gunshots didn’t strike this large fuel tanker, which could possibly have caused it to explode.

“Good thing bullets didn’t hit the tanker truck,” observed an officer at the parameter of the incident, pointing out the HazMat sign “1993-6”, commonly used for vehicles transporting bulk quantities of diesel fuel.

Later, a PPB official acknowledged that two people were taken from the scene by ambulance. “Both people are still being treated at the hospital for their injuries. The investigation is ongoing,” the official reported.

If anyone has information about this shooting, and hasn’t been interviewed, contact Detective Joseph Corona 503-823-0508 or Detective Anthony Merrill 503-823-4033.

December 8
Bullets strike two Parkrose Heights houses

An officer gets things needed to look into this gunfight in the Parkrose Heights neighborhood that possibly started as vehicles were exiting the freeway.

PPB North Precinct officers were dispatched on December 8 at 8:52 p.m. to a “shots fired” call at the western terminus of NE Fargo Street, where it dead-ends into the I-84 off ramp at NE 103rd Place. Five officers, including a PPB Canine Team, came into the area and began investigating.

It’s not clear if this was another rolling gunfight, but officers did find evidence of gunfire two blocks to the east of the originally-reported location.

Bullet shell casings left behind are clear evidence of “shots fired” in this neighborhood.

“Officers located a home in the 10500 block of NE Fargo Street which had been struck by gunfire, with several casings in the street,” PPB Public Information Officer Melissa Newhard told East Portland News.

And an additional house, a block to the south, was also hit. “Another person, in the 10500 block of NE Siskiyou Street, also called in that their house had been struck by bullets,” said Newhard. “A witness to the incident described a maroon-colored van’s occupant who had fired the shots.”

Mayor Wheeler asked for shooting violence reduction plan
Having been asked by so many witnesses what is being done to halt, or at least reduce, what some call “gun violence” – a misnomer, because criminals use guns to perpetrate violence – East Portland News emailed this question to Mayor Ted Wheeler:

In your role as both Portland’s Mayor, and Commissioner of Police, what specifically are your plans, step-by-step, to reduce gun shooting incidents?

With all due respect, we are still awaiting his reply.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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