PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — During a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Ted Wheeler and local law enforcement discussed the fatal gun violence that swept Portland over the weekend.
The mayor was joined by Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, the FBI, U.S. Attorney for Oregon Scott Asphaug and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. They said they’re all working together to seek justice and find solutions.
When asked why we’re just now hearing from them, they said they were waiting to be able to provide more accurate and solid information to the public.
“This is probably one of the most deadly and challenging weekends our city has experienced,” Chief Lovell said. “It’s also one of the most heartbreaking. People are dead, people injured, lives destroyed over senseless violence.”
Three lives were lost over the span of 72 hours, according to Schmidt. The county responded to four separate shootings over the weekend.
“I don’t know how anyone in this community could hear about, or read about, or in some cases personally experience, the kind of horrific violence we’ve seen this weekend and feel anything other than utter despair and a profound sense of sadness. But for me, what this does is it motivates me, and it underscores the importance of the direction and the investments that my administration has been making,” Wheeler said.
Mayor Wheeler said this is why they created the Enhanced Community Safety Team and the Focused Intervention Team to respond to and investigate gun violence.
He also explained they’re working to retain police officers and said they’ve set a goal to hire 300 police staff over the next three years to get closer to minimum staffing levels in the police bureau.
Wheeler said they’ve also invested in community groups that work to break the cycle of violence and will continue to do that.
He also explained that the city council is now unified in their urgency and desire to reduce gun violence. He said this has changed from a year ago, when he was the only vote in favor of funding the Focused Intervention Team.
A shooting Saturday night left one woman dead and five others wounded in Portland’s Normandale Park. A confrontation between an armed resident and armed protesters sparked the shooting, according to a police narrative.
However, some witnesses have reported they were there as unarmed peacekeepers.
In the Normandale Park shooting, police initially identified the suspect as a homeowner, but KOIN 6 News learned from his landlord that the suspect was a renter in his apartment complex.
Late Monday night, a search warrant was served at the home of a person believed to have opened fire. An officer confirmed to KOIN 6 News it was part of the investigation into the Saturday shooting.
Authorities told the public that critical evidence was reportedly taken from the scene. However, Chief Lovell did not elaborate on what evidence was missing. Additionally, he said the chaotic scene and limited resources contributed to the bureau releasing information slowly.
A person was also shot and killed by a Portland police officer on the same night in Southwest Portland. However, police have released few details in the ongoing investigation.
Not even 24 hours later, a mother was killed, her two children were wounded and her boyfriend was critically hurt when bullets ripped through their car late Sunday night in Southeast Portland.
When asked if the family was the shooter’s intended target, Chief Lovell said he does not have enough information to comment.
The City Council is fully unified in the effort to reduce gun violence, according to Wheeler. “We’re not going to stop until peace returns to Portland,” said Wheeler.
Scott Asphaug, the U.S. Attorney for Oregon, says they need people willing to come forward and tell what they’ve seen to help law enforcement arrest people responsible for Portland’s epidemic of shootings. While discussing whether it’s possible to prosecute our way out of this heightened violence, Asphaug said “the answer is, of course, ‘no'”.
On Monday, PPB told KOIN 6 there were 206 shootings and 51 injuries from shootings reported in 2022.