Portland mom loses 2 sons to gun violence, killers at large

Crime

Sammie West was 19, Laray Seamster was 26

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nearly 6 years ago, Sammie West’s brother, Laray Seamster, was gunned down outside a North Portland church. The killer has never been found. Sammie was shot to death a year ago — on August 22, 2020 — in the 13900 block of SE Main Street. His killer also remains at large.

Sammie was just 19. Laray was 26.

Their mother, Erica West, has now twice gone through every mother’s nightmare: burying a child. She’s pleading for someone to step forward to help bring justice for her sons.

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Laray Seamster was killed November 11, 2015 in North Portland (KOIN, file)

“There’s no medication that I can take to make me feel better. It’s just family and prayers that are getting me through,” Erica told KOIN 6 News. “It’s been a struggle. It’s been every day, different days, ups, downs, emotions.”

She is aware of the increasing gun violence and shortage of police in Portland. “The murder rate, every day you wake up someone’s getting killed. You know, the minimum of detectives that we have right now.”

Erica said they found out about Sammie’s death on social media.

Police say 19-year-old Sammie West was shot and killed in Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood, Aug. 22, 2020. (PPB)

“My husband came and Sammie was still in the ambulance and he was able to sit there with him but as a mom I couldn’t do that again, I just couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t do it again,” she said.

Laray’s daughter, Imanhi Seamster, was only 6 when her father was killed. Though she’s not even a teenager yet, Imanhi has experienced the immeasurable pain of losing her father and then her uncle, who was a friend and father figure.

“There hasn’t been one day I haven’t went without thinking about them,” Imanhi said. “It’s hard to grieve when we know we don’t have justice for them both.”

Laray Seamster’s mom, Erica West, holds a sign on the 4th anniversary of his murder, November 11, 2019 (KOIN)

Portland police said they don’t have any suspect information. That’s why Erica and her family are pleading for help from the public.

“I’m forgiving. God is forgiving,” Erica said. “Just do us right.”

Homicide detectives keep in regular contact with her, she said. And she added she believes PPB needs more resources to prevent gun violence as well as solve cases.

Crime Stoppers of Oregon is offering a $2,500 cash reward to anyone who has information that leads to an arrest. Anonymous tips can be made online or by calling 503.823.4357.

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