PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Since December 17 — the night Kelley Marie Smith was shot to death in Northeast Portland — there have been about 150 shootings in the city, according to data KOIN 6 News obtained from police.
And every time Raymond Smith sees another shooting on the news, it brings back the memory of his wife being killed.
“It makes me sad. It makes me cry. It makes me reflect back to my wife,” Smith told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday.
Kelley Marie Smith, who was 53, was making an Uber Eats delivery when she was slain. She and Raymond had been married nearly 25 years.
He said he is hopeful about PPBs new Enhanced Community Safety Team.
“If that could lead to arrests, and people’s lives being saved. If they did it to my wife, they’ll do it to your mother.”
Pastor J.W. Matt Hennessee of the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, agrees.
“I think it’s great the City Council is having public conversations about that, because it’s important people know this, important people know this very important issue is being addressed,” Pastor Hennessee said.
Asked if he thinks the shootings are gang-related, the pastor deflected and said that’s not a term he uses.
“As far as actual activity on the street, I don’t have an answer for how much or how many, but what I know is that there is a certain amount that is related to gang activity, whether it’s an initial issue or whether it is retribution,” he said.
Hennessee said the pandemic has exacerbated the problems and the digital divide, showing the lack of opportunity for Black communities because of COVID.
“47% of the people who lost their life on the street were Black people, and as a percentage of the city’s population, we are 6 or 7%. When you look at this really unfortunate, disporortionate issue, it’s like, we really have to deal with this.”
Raymond Smith thinks the new Enhanced Community Safety Team is a good idea that needs to get going.
“I think that gun task force, they need to get that going,” Smith said. “That might deter people from doing what they’re doing if they know people are specifically looking for people who are shooting or planning on shooting.”
Since his wife’s death, he has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is now having to struggle with that alone.
“There’s been too much violence going on with these guns,” he said.