Stabbing suspect torches home

Read about a most unusual series of events that took place in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood – which led to a standoff with police and firefighters …

While a man, believed to have set a converted garage on fire, remains inside, firefighters fight the blaze – from a safe distance.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Neighbors in an upscale area of the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, near SE 127th Avenue and SE Rhone Street, said they believed that a 576 sq ft detached garage – legally converted into a residence in September, 2002 – had become a nexus of drug and crime activity.

“You see a lot of not-so-friendly looking people walking up and down our street, at all hours of the night and day,” remarked neighbor Ross Harris.

On the morning of November 2, Harris said he smelled acrid smoke, and saw a plume rising from the area of the garage at about 10:00 a.m. “I’m not sure how much later it was, but there was a big ‘boom!’ that shook the ground,” Harris told East Portland News.

Firefighters take cover, behind the PF&R Woodstock Station #25 Ladder Truck, not knowing what a potentially armed suspect might do next.

The residents of the main house on the large lot – its address is 12706 SE Rhone Street – called the 9-1-1 Center at 9:54 a.m. that morning, asking for police.

“They reported that a man was acting erratically in the home,” said Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Officers learned that the man was a suspect in a stabbing earlier in the morning, near SE 148th Avenue and Stark Street, which had been reported by a 60-year-old man, who was taken to Portland Adventist Medical Center. Simpson told us that the victim’s injuries were not life-threatening.

Emergency vehicles block SE Bush Street at 127th Place, as police and firefighters respond to a blaze, and a holed-up suspect.

“As the officers were speaking with the residents outside the home, they noticed smoke coming from the rear of the home, where a detached garage was located,” Simpson added.

That garage/residence, although on the same lot, has a different street number, 12712 SE Rhone Street, and has a gated driveway accessed off SE Bush Street via 127th Place.

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to fight the fire and told police a man told them to “get out” as they attempted to put water on the building.

From a safe distance, firefighters spray water on the burning structure.

When the man showed hostility toward fire crews and wouldn’t leave, PF&R Fire Deputy Chief Dan Buckner said firefighters pulled back, and only made an exterior fire attack – from a safe distance – after the explosion.

For hours, firefighters drenched the burning – then, smoldering – outer East Portland residence with water.

“The Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and Crisis Negotiation Team responded to assist East Precinct officers on a ‘tactical incident’ involving a possibly-armed person in a residence,” Simpson confirmed during the standoff.

SERT officers begin staging, along with their armored vehicle, along SE Rhone Street at 129th Avenue about 12:15 p.m.

At 1:11 p.m. Simpson Tweeted: “Suspect in custody; will be transported to hospital for precautionary examination. PF&R now focused on fighting fire.”

The fact that the person had managed to survive in the smoke-filled structure came as a surprise to many first-responders at the scene.

Not yet accused of arson, but already charged with an assault, is 43-year-old Shawn Edward Mahan. MCDC booking photo

The suspect, later identified as 43-year-old Shawn Edward Mahan, was transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital as a precaution. Mahan was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 4:49 p.m. on a charge of Assault in the First Degree, and a parole violation.

“Additional charges will likely be added at a later time,” Simpson remarked.

After his arraignment, Mahan remains in custody at MCDC on a “County Hold” for the parole violation, and in lieu of $250,000 bail for the assault charge.

What remains unclear at this time is if Mahan inhabited the residence, or was simply a visitor.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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