Portland gun violence ‘like a wildfire, a life of its own’


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Chief Deputy District Attorney Kirsten Snowden has never seen so many shootings in all her 23 years at the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney Kirsten Snowden

She told KOIN 6 News that she believes most of these shootings are gang-related as gang shootings tend to be retaliatory in nature, causing the number of shootings to grow exponentially.

Shootings in Portland have more than doubled from 2019 to 2020 and they continue to increase, according to the Portland Police Bureau. Police say there have already been more than 100 shootings so far this year.

“Gun violence, like all violence, is a public health issue,” she said. “It tends to spread and grow exponentially, it’s like a wildfire, with a life of its own.”

Social and economic inequities aggravate the problem as well, she added.

“We have limited resources available for local law enforcement. We’ve had the discontinuation of the gun violence response team, which has severely impacted the manner in which these crimes are investigated.”

Snowden said the DA’s office is getting frantic phone calls from mothers, telling them they are worried about their sons becoming targets of gun violence.

The Multnomah County DA is working with the Office of Violence Prevention and meeting with local law enforcement multiple times a week to figure out how to stop the increase in violent crime. But she wants to see more investigative resources deployed.

Gang shootings aren’t the only culprit for the increase in violent crime, Snowden said. Violent crime, in general, is just getting worse.

“A lot of that is probably due to emotional stressors that a lot of us have,” she said. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, they could be socioeconomic.”

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