PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The FBI Special Agent in Charge in Portland said 3 agents were assigned to patrol with Portland police officers over the weekend and responded to every shooting that happened.
Agent Keiran Ramsey said another 4 agents were on standby, ready to be called out if a shooting was deemed to be gang-related.
The teaming effort between PPB and the FBI was announced Friday night by the Portland City Council with the goal to curb the city’s rise in gun violence.
“It wasn’t, you know, them coming to us pleading. It wasn’t us going to them demanding. It was just a simple, natural outgrowth of the conversations that we have on a daily basis,” he said.
There were 3 shootings in Portland over the weekend, including one that took the life of a woman. But Ramsey said none of the weekend shootings appeared to be gang-related.
Regardless, he said it’s time to break the cycle of violence.
“Portland, Oregon is not supposed to be this way,” he told KOIN 6 News. “This is supposed to be a safe city.”
How they will help
Agents and officers will be in the field together for the foreseeable future, Ramsey said. Part of the effort is to analyze past shootings and help solve them.
“We’re looking at the links to see if we can link those to other recent incidents, identify individuals that are part and parcel of these things,” Ramsey said. “So that perhaps if there are more appropriate federal charges versus state charges, we can pursue those.”
The FBI is able to help PPB investigations in a number of ways, mostly with enhanced technical capabilities.
“If we talk hairs, fibers, fingerprints, DNA on things like that, of course there’s capabilities here in the state, certainly with our colleagues at the Oregon State Police, but we also have further capabilities even beyond that,” Ramsey told KOIN 6 News.
He added there is always a digital component to an investigation — a cell phone, a smartphone, a computer — that the FBI forensics lab can examine.
“There are a lot of other capabilities that we’re bringing to the table that we can dedicate right on the front end, so that there isn’t a delay, an undue delay in any investigative avenue that we might need to pursue.”
Ramsey said he is aware the term “gang war” has been used, but he was cautious in how he described what’s happening.
“There is a cycle of violence that’s ongoing here, that is without question there are retaliatory acts of violence that are connected and that we can see through any number of shootings,” he said. Their goal is to “break the chain of violence” and take the guns off the street.
But he added this is not unique to Portland, tha there are “huge spikes of gang violence, gun violence, violent crime” in cities across the country.
“I can tell you certainly when we look at the number of shootings right now, a majority of it is retaliatory violence assessed to be connected to gang violence. So we’re looking at these incidents that are connected, that are believed to be gang violence that are believed to be retaliatory violence,” he said. “And unfortunately we’re seeing innocent people that were in the wrong place at the wrong time, unfortunately being victimized by this as well.”
“I believe the statistic that was thrown out there was over 230 shell casings have been recovered in the last number of weeks or months since the first of the year,” he said. “That’s 230 bullets at a minimum, that have been fired at something or somebody. And those bullets don’t just stop. When they miss their intended target, they keep going until they hit something or somebody, and we have had innocent bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time killed or injured.”
Stopping the shootings takes the whole community and he pleaded for people to step up and provide information.
“We know that there are witnesses out there that are reluctant to come forward to cooperate with law enforcement. We know there are victims out there that are reluctant to come forward and engage with law enforcement. We’re pleading with the community: If you know of anything out there or someone or some information out there relative to a previous shooting or, worse yet, somebody that’s got a gun now that’s planning to conduct some kind of significant violent crime, please call law enforcement.”