This Week in the Mercury


Friday, December 17, 2010

Fatal Officer-Involved-Shooting in East Portland (Updated)

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Update 2 pm—Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch offers some perspective on the latest shooting. He notes that in 2010—with five officer-involved shootings, four of them fatal—we wound up with "as many police shootings as there were in 2006."

"All this talk about Taser training and [Crisis Intervention Team] training and the presence of the [Indepenedent Police Review], all of which has been attributed to lowering the number of police shootings," he says, "has all been thrown out the window at this point."

Update 1:44 pm— The O tracked down a neighbor who lived on the same hall as the shooting and says he counted 16 gun shells in the hallway:

Shawn Bartmess, who can see the apartment door where the shooting took place from his peephole, said he got up at 4 a.m. this morning to get ready for his landscaping job, when he heard officers shouting “Get down! Get down!”

“I heard a rapid series of shots, and I could tell, as a gun enthusiast, that the shots were coming from more than one firearm,’’ Bartmess said. “I looked out the peephole and saw officers with guns drawn.”

Minutes later, he cracked open the door: "You could smell gunpowder in the air,” he said. Bartmess snapped a smartphone photo of shell casings that littered the hallway. He counted 16, he said. Bartmess’ wife also looked out the peephole and heard an officer say “He pointed a gun at me.’’

Ventura Park apartments, the scene of last nights shooting
  • Ventura Park apartments, the scene of last night's shooting
UPDATE 11:40 AM— The Oregonian reports that the man shot in last night's officer-involved-shooting did not shoot at police: "When the two officers encountered the suspect they opened fire, said police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. The shooting victim did not shoot, Simpson said."

Just an hour ago, the medical examiner's distinctive white truck left the scene with the body of the 45-year-old man killed in last night's shooting.

The Ventura Park apartment complex where the shooting occurred sits at the corner of 122nd and East Burnside, bordering a busy MAX stop and an empty lot full of vacant, boarded up white houses. While some neighbors at the Ventura Park complex were evacuated and given shelter from the cold in TriMet buses last night, others didn't even hear the shots. I talked with a resident named Amos (he wouldn't give his last name) while he loaded his son on the schoolbus this morning. From their fourth floor apartment, Amos's family slept through the whole thing. "I was surprised to hear about this, it's been a safe place, it's been quiet," he said.

ORIGINAL POST 8:59 AM
The police just sent out this press release. More info when we have it:

This morning, Friday December 17, 2010 at 2:56 a.m., Portland Police officers were dispatched to the Ventura Park Apartments, located at 121st and East Burnside, on the report of a threats between two neighbors. Officers were on scene for approximately 20 minutes then cleared the call after things settled down.

At approximately 3:47 a.m., officers were called back to the apartments after a caller to 9-1-1 reported that a suspect was threatening to shoot the caller. Officers received additional information that the suspect was armed with a handgun.

Shortly after the officers arrived they encountered the suspect and shots were fired. The officers then lost sight of the suspect and the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and the Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT) were called to respond to assist in safely approaching the suspect. Officers and sergeants on scene continued to develop a plan to safely approach the suspect as well as evacuate other occupants of the apartment, including some children. Officers ultimately were able to safely approach the suspect and, along with medical personnel, determined that the suspect was deceased. The suspect is described as a 45-year-old male.

Detectives are onscene and are in the initial stages of the investigation.

No names will be released at this time and additional information may be released later today.

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