SERT action foils a robbery attempt in the Hazelwood neighborhood

Police caught and then released a man in outer East Portland. Find out here just why, and why they shut the neighborhood down for blocks, as they searched for suspects …

Dozens of blocks between NE Glisan and NE Halsey Streets were shut down, north of NE 122nd Avenue, as police looked for individuals they suspected had been involved in a robbery.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On August 11, about 9:30 a.m., Judy Kennedy looked concerned as she stood in the BiMart parking lot just east of NE Halsey Street and NE 122nd Avenue. She said her mother operated a daycare center in her home in the Hazelwood neighborhood – and the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) had just isolated that section, between NE Glisan and NE Halsey Street, running east to NE 130th Avenue.

She watched as members of the PPB Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) officers swarmed into the area, along with their vehicles – and the Mobile Precinct. Kennedy asked us why police weren’t letting anyone in or out of the area; we told her that police were looking for at least two individuals, and were concerned about officer and community safety.

PPB East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs (wearing a brown sports jacket) confers with officers and detectives as the yard-by-yard search gets underway in this otherwise peaceful Hazelwood neighborhood.

Situation remains murky
At 7:40 a.m. that morning, police had been in pursuit of a vehicle in the area of NE 126th Avenue and NE Halsey Street, we learned later from PPB spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat.

“East Precinct officers attempted to make contact with two subjects in a vehicle at NE 122nd and Holladay Street,” Wheat said. “The subjects fled in their vehicle eastbound on Halsey Street, and the police officers pursued them. The subjects then [stopped and] ran from the vehicle in the area of NE 126th Avenue and NE Hassalo Street.”

Because officers believed at least one of the subjects in the vehicle was armed with a handgun and might be responsible for a robbery that had occurred, Wheat said they activated SERT and set a large “perimeter” or cordoned-off area, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the area.

“The SERT officers searched the area, and about 11:00 a.m., they found a 34-year-old man in the backyard of a residence near 126th and Hassalo Street, and took him into custody,” Wheat later reported. “The second possible suspect was not located during the search. Portland Police Robbery Detectives are investigating this incident.”

Later, we learned the man who had been taken into custody was later released. “Detectives now believe there had been the potential for an impending robbery – and police action actually stopped before it took place,” Wheat explained.

The yellow tape means you must stay out.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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