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Sunday, March 6, 2011

BREAKING: Two Police Officers Shot in Southeast

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Chief Mike Reese, right, arrives at Emanuel Hospital.
  • Brent Wojahn—The Oregonian
  • Chief Mike Reese, right, arrives at Emanuel Hospital.
Update 3:54 PM The police bureau issued its account of the shooting, including this update: the officer taken to Emanuel is out of surgery but listed in critical condition. As of 3:30 this afternoon, a few police cars could be seen in the parking lot outside Emanuel's emergency room, but otherwise the hospital was fairly quiet.

Earlier, at 3 PM, detectives and analysts could be seen poring over Brooklyn Park, where red and yellow crime tape remains in place. Tim Smith, a clerk at furniture Chantique's, which sits right across from Brooklyn Park on SE Milwaukie, told me he saw officers swarm into a duplex on the west side of 10th just south of Haig.

He said the first burst of gunfire caught his attention, and that he saw the two officers running toward the park. Soon, he says, more officers and the tactical units arrived, fanning through the park. He was watching when the officer taken to surgery was shot down, in a place Smith found surprising—near a red outhouse, way over on the other side of the park from the duplex, past a mercifully empty children's playground.

"This guy's at a point where he could shoot me," said Smith, who worried the man might have holed up inside his home, on the second floor and up a hill, and sprayed gunfire at the neighborhood. "I got scared and started crouching down."

He agreed that the other officers' rescue response was nearly instantaneous and came alongside gunfire so heavy it sounded like it came from automatic weapons.

"Then it got deathly silent for a long, long time," he said. "Hats off to the negotiator. He made short work of that guy."

Update 1:30 PM: Portland Police Chief Mike Reese, at one point fighting back tears, and Mayor Sam Adams, making a somber appearance as police commissioner, have confirmed that two officers were shot this morning, with one receiving minor injuries but the other being wounded, as the mayor put it during brief remarks, potentially "gravely."

The officers were shot after a welfare check of a 61-year-old man in a duplex overlooking Brooklyn Park went awry. Despite having fired at police officers, the man—first reported to be threatening suicide by pills—was not shot. And he was arrested later after hostage negotiators persuaded him to drop his weapons and leave his duplex peacefully.

"These things happen, obviously, very quickly," Adams told reporters in front of crime tape on SE Milwaukie, outside Armchair Books, hailing the "heroism" of officers who rescued their fallen colleague and then negotiated the alleged shooter's surrender. "Police responded with restraint, but also were smart."

The officer with minor injuries was hit with shrapnel, either from wood or bullet fragments, after he and his partner decided to knock on the man's door—and the man, instead of opening, fired a gun at them. That was at 9:23 this morning—eight minutes after the suicide threat was first reported, police said. The injured cop and his partner, both from Central Precinct, tried to phone the man first, but decided to knock on his door when he didn't pick up. Reese said they were told the man may have had weapons, believed to be a shotgun and a rifle, but that the weapons were locked in the first-floor garage.

"At some point they have to approach," Reese said. "This was a very innocuous call."

The duplex, on the 3300 block of SE 10th, overlooks Brooklyn City Park.
  • The duplex, on the 3300 block of SE 10th, overlooks Brooklyn City Park.
After the first shots were fired, the officers retreated and called for backup, and the bureau's tactical officers and hostage negotiators were also summoned. Officers also began evacuating homes in the area while fanning out around the duplex, which overlooks Brooklyn Park. It was about then, at 9:34, that the second officer, a veteran from East Precinct, was shot. Police spokesman Sergeant Pete Simpson said the officer was possibly "100 yards away from the house," in the wide-open park, when he was hit in the lower abdomen with a rifle.

Almost immediately after that officer fell, officials said, nearby cops rushed over, also risking injury, and began firing what's known as "suppression fire" at the house, not hoping to hit the shooter but to keep him from continuing to shoot. That cover allowed yet other officers to rescue the officer who had been hit and load him onto an ambulance headed to Emanuel Hospital, where he was immediately sent into surgery.

Eventually, a hostage negotiator got the man in the duplex on the phone and persuaded him to come outside unarmed and be handcuffed. That was just more than an hour after the first report, at 10:34.

The last time an officer was shot was last May, during a police standoff on Reese's first day as chief that left Keaton Otis, another despondent man, dead. In 1998, Officer Colleen Waibel was killed during a drug bust.

Adams sent he had already been at Emanuel to visit with the officer's family. Reese said he was headed there again after the news conference. While Adams was speaking, asking "all Portlanders to join in wishing him a speedy recovery," Reese grew noticeably emotional. Before they parted, Adams asked the chief to "keep him posted."

Original post: Two Portland police officers were shot this morning outside a residence on Southeast 10th Street, police are reporting this morning. In response, the officers sent out their tactical officers to the home, on the 3300 block of 10th.

The Oregonian is reporting that a suspect involved in the shooting is in custody. But police so far have not provided any updates on the officers' conditions or names, or on whether the suspect in the shooting also was shot.

More as it comes in.

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