PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland’s Old Town neighborhood has experienced two homicides in the past four days.
People who live or work there tell KOIN 6 they see crimes every day — even as officers try to stop them. Police say there were more than 40 shots fired in one parking lot on Saturday. PPB says police and security officers call this parking lot at 5th and Davis “the boneyard” because of all the shootings.
Portlander Maureen Baker lives in the neighborhood and says she doesn’t feel safe standing at the bus stop, but has no choice.
“I get scared and it’s a hard thing for me to be scared so sometimes I stay in more,” she said. I am hyper-vigilant, looking around making sure I don’t get attacked. I did once … I got hit in the back by what I’m assuming was a homeless person, disheveled man about my size and I turned around and I did this self-defense and put my hand out and said stop and he just stood there and I was afraid to turn around and keep walking and I finally said get out of here and he crossed the street he really had a mean look in his eyes.”
Ryan Edward told KOIN 6 that he spent his last $250 on a Greyhound ticket from Phoenix where he was homeless because he heard Portland had better homeless services but says he has found Portland to be “dangerous.”
“I was warned when I got off the bus to watch my back,” Edward said. “I pretty much just come and go. I don’t like to stay in one spot so I just lay my head wherever.”
It’s no secret that drugs and violence keep countless Portlanders away from Old Town. Officer David Baer with PPB’s bike unit says the team is out here every day doing what they can to stop drug dealers and violent criminals.
“While we are talking, someone over there was asking to buy drugs. I could hear him yelling ‘does anyone have blues’ which is street slang for fake Xanax bars that are frequently in our experience mixed with fentanyl,” Baer said. “We’ve run two missions in the last week specifically to target open-air drug markets and both of those missions have resulted in the capture of homicide suspects.”
Baer tells me these officers witness people smoking drugs like meth and fentanyl every day, but all they can do is issue a citation.
“We cite a lot of the same people,” he said.
People who live and work around here say they appreciate the officer’s work, but say it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.
“I just work here. I’m just a lowly street cop on a bike and I’m out here every day with my team and we have a great crew and we’re out here trying to change Old Town for the better,” Baer said.