Shots in the dark slay SE man in his house

Neighbors say they still don’t know if the gunman was taking out anger on the man’s parked car – or was actually taking aim at the man killed inside the house …

These bullet path rods, placed through the wall of this SE Portland home, indicate where bullets passed through the wall – at least one of them striking and killing an occupant.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The stillness of the night was shattered by the sound of semi-automatic gunfire at about 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 22, in the street opposite a modest home at 5706 SE Flavel Street, in the Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood.

Neighbors reported hearing a lot of rapid-fire of gunshots – one estimated 18, another 11, and a woman who lives a block south on SE Malden Street said she distinctly heard only seven shots. “It sounded like two spaced bangs, then bang, bang, bang, bang, bang – seven in all,” she told us.

SE Flavel Street was closed off as Portland Police Bureau detectives and criminalists investigate the shooting at SE 57th Avenue.

Detectives and criminalists confer regarding evidence they’ve found in this shooting that killed a man in the yellow cottage behind them.

When East Precinct officers arrived, they found an unoccupied parked car riddled with bullet holes, according to Portland Police Bureau (PPB) spokesman Sgt. Michael Marshman. Police started checking homes in the vicinity, and found a man bleeding in a house checked a couple of yards east of the car. “Officers called paramedics and began giving medical attention to 52-year-old Joseph ‘Joey’ Lawrence Erzen,” reports Marshman; “He later died at the scene.”

PPB Homicide Division detectives said Erzen was in his bedroom at the time he was shot, and that the fatal bullet entered his bedroom from outside the home. In the morning light, this reporter could see six bullet holes, and four “bullet path rods” that a PPB criminalist had placed through the wall of the home’s shingle siding, indicating the trajectory of the bullets.

A crime scene investigator works at the scene, being careful not to disturb evidence.

Evidence markers, like this one, dot the area around the house.

“I don’t know if someone was trying to just shoot up his car, or to kill him,” said a neighbor who asked not to be named.

At this time, officials are giving no other details, other than to say that this case is still under investigation – and to ask members of the public to call Detective Jim McCausland at (503) 823-0449 with any information about this case.

Police released this photo of the man killed by
gunfire, Joseph ‘Joey’ Lawrence Erzen.

Additionally, Crime Stoppers is now offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information – reported to Crime Stoppers – that leads to an arrest in this case. You can remain anonymous. Call Crime Stoppers at (503) 823-HELP (4357) or leave a tip online at:

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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