Robot and drone used to find and arrest a man with a machete in Montavilla

Discover how the escapades of an armed firebug brought about a large police call-out; and, learn why he’s not now still in custody …

Along the narrow streets that parallel I-205 in the Montavilla neighborhood, officers converge on a man wielding a machete knife.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A man, armed with a machete, attempted to set fire to an electrical box in front of the Gateway Plaza Apartments, at the corner of NE 99th Avenue and Glisan Street, in the late afternoon of Saturday, April 20.

That triggered a “Threat-with-Weapon” dispatch that sent Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers to find him at 5:34 p.m.

“Arriving officers, assigned to East Precinct, attempted to stop a male subject who’d been trying to set fire to electrical boxes and had been threatening people with a machete,” confirmed PPB Public Information Manager Mike Benner, as he related the story to East Portland News.

PPB officers, one with a dog, go into the house, looking for the suspect.

“When the officers confronted the suspect, he refused to comply with the police officers, and they deployed a 40mm ‘less lethal impact weapon’ [like a bean-bag projectile] to gain compliance, because the male was still armed,” Benner continued.

Heading down the Multi-Use path, the man hopped the fence and dodged traffic as he fled west, across all lanes of travel on I-205 – and up the embankment into a residential area of the Montavilla neighborhood.

Officers keep an eye open for the man on the run, with his bladed weapon.

The man ran north, paralleling NE 94th Avenue, passing Holladay Street and ducked into the back yard on NE Tamera Lane where he found a house had an unlocked outside basement door.

It didn’t take long for 24 officers reach that house. Among those officers were several from the PPB’s Tactical Division. Residents of the home were safely evacuated.

“After several hours of attempting to get the male subject to surrender a police, a robot was used to open the unlocked door,” Benner continued. “A drone was also used to fly into the small space where the suspect, still armed with the machete, was hiding inside.”

After peeking into the basement, this PPB Tactical Unit officers drives a robot back to his vehicle.

A PPB Canine police dog team leads officers to the back yard of the house where a man has holed up.

Eventually the suspect dropped the machete and came out, but he tried a desperate run for it; but, surrounded by officers, he climbed up and over a tall arborvitae bush on the cement retaining wall to try to reach the freeway.

But, the suspect became entangled in blackberry bushes, and eventually surrendered to police and was taken into custody. At the scene, PPB Sgt. Sarah Kerwin told reporters, “We did recover the machete; he left it behind in the basement.”

Officials say this man, taken into custody at the scene, is the suspect in the case – 32-year-old Ben Bilip.

32-year-old Ben Bilip was arrested and booked in to the Multnomah County Detention Center at 9:59 p.m. that evening, on two Felony charges: Burglary in the Second Degree and Criminal Mischief in the First Degree; and three additional Misdemeanor charges, including Menacing with a Weapon.

His criminal charges nonwithstanding, Bilip was released by a judge after his arraignment the next day, April 21st. Release Reason: Close Street Supervision.

If you can provide the police with any information about this incident, email it to, and add that it concerns Incident No. 24-97835.

© 2024 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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