Two shootings; two deaths in outer East Portland in one night

It’s a mystery why bullets blew out a car’s rear window and killed the driver on E. Burnside Street. But, what’s behind the shooting death in the Hazelwood neighborhood was all too clear. Find out …

East Burnside Street is shut down, as first police officers and then homicide detectives try to unravel why a westbound car left the road traveling about 40 mph and smashed through the wooden utility pole, which is now hanging by its wires.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It didn’t sound like an ordinary late-night car-into-pole incident, as it unfolded on E. Burnside Street, at NE 89th Avenue, at 1:00 a.m. on Friday morning, June 11.

Neighbors, brought out by the commotion of arriving and departing emergency vehicles, said they were awakened by the sound of “fireworks; loud bangs” – followed by a house-shaking crash. One neighbor said he saw a passenger in the vehicle seem to struggle with emergency workers; another said they thought she’d been shot with a Tazer.

Behind the trees and bushes at the left, the smashed car came to rest after clipping the utility pole in half like a twig.

The car came to rest on the front lawn of a home, just east of NE 90th Avenue, said witnesses of the aftermath of the crash.

Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat confirmed what we saw when we arrived on scene – a vehicle accident. “Officers found three people in a vehicle that had hit a pole, and eventually crashed into a yard of a residence in the area.”

Looking west on E. Burnside Street from SE 93rd Avenue, officers and investigators gather, as they sift evidence and document the scene of this bizarre single-car smashup.

Wheat confirmed what neighbors said – two passengers were taken away in ambulances. The third individual had been shot in the chest, officers reported. “The driver had life threatening injuries, and was transported to OHSU Hospital; he died several hours later.” Investigators said they suspected Jenkins was shot just prior to the accident, Wheat stated.

Killed by a gunshot
“The victim in this shooting has been identified as 32-year-old David Cosmo Jenkins,” Wheat reported, later in the day. “The Medical Examiner’s Office has completed their autopsy and concluded that Mr. Jenkins died from a gunshot wound. One of the passengers transported to the hospital is recovering from non-life threatening injuries.”

Police aren’t commenting on whether or not the rear window of this vehicle, in which the driver was shot, had been blasted out by gunfire.

Says no gang connection
As PPB Homicide Detectives came on scene, they also called in members of the Gang Enforcement Team, Wheat said; but later – “At this time, detectives do not believe this was a gang-related crime. Homicide Detectives are investigating this case.”

Neighbors said they were concerned that perhaps a sniper or random shooter was loose in their neighborhood. Wheat responded to that concern: “Investigators don’t believe there is a sniper out there; nor is there a safety issue related to random shooting. This investigation is in its early stages and is continuing.”

Second shooting kills 26-year-old man
in Hazelwood

Police cordon off a home where they say they responded to a shooting.

Earlier that evening, about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 10, Portland police officers were called to a house in the Hazelwood neighborhood, on NE 110th Avenue, about a block north of NE Glisan Street.

“When officers arrived,” Detective Wheat said, “they found a 26 year-old male shooting victim. He’d been shot inside a residence.”

The victim, later identified as Tyler Baker, was rushed to Emanuel Hospital, but died of his injuries after arrival.

The victim was inside the residence with friends when the shooting occurred, reported Wheat. “It appears at this time that the shooting was accidental, but Homicide Detectives went in to investigate the incident.”

Acquaintance charged in death
The following day, the Medical Examiner’s Office, after completing their autopsy, ruled that Baker had died from a gunshot wound. And it did appear to be accidental.

“Mr. Baker was shot by a known associate,” Wheat reported the following day. “25-year-old Tyler Gregory Smith was charged with one count of Criminal Negligent Homicide in connection with this shooting.”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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