PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called Saturday morning’s deadly downtown shooting “devastating, tragic and senseless” and vowed to work with the city council, the Portland Police Bureau and the community to ensure safety for all.
An 18-year-old woman died and six other people were injured in the shooting that took place in the 300 block of SW 3rd Avenue just after 2 a.m., the Portland Police Bureau said.
Responding officers found “an extremely chaotic scene with lots of injured people,” PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said in a press conference with Mayor Wheeler on Saturday afternoon. The most severely injured victim from the incident died at the hospital Saturday morning. Her name has not been released.
“The number of victims confirmed struck by gunfire is seven, not eight as initially believed,” PPB clarified. “That figure may change again as more information comes in. It’s possible that some of the injured may have left the scene on their own without talking to officers.”
The surviving victims have wounds of varying degrees of severity, though their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, police said.
The suspect or suspects fled before officers arrived. No descriptions were immediately available.
Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to immediately contact Detective Brian Sims at Brian.Sims@portlandoregon.gov or 503.823.2079 or Detective Scott Broughton Scott.Broughton@portlandoregon.gov or 503.823.3774. Lovell said investigators think there may be more victims, as well as witnesses, who left the scene before officers arrived.
“Any time lives are lost or people are injured because of gun violence, I feel myself feeling heartbroken but at the same time angry,” said Wheeler. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families, not just of the shooting that happened downtown this morning, but also with anyone who has ever experienced the pain and the trauma that gun violence brings. But I have to say this: thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. What’s needed is clarity in terms of what resources the Portland Police Bureau needs in the years ahead to address the changing safety needs in our community. That includes clearly identifying the tools, the training, and the appropriate number of personnel.”
Lovell said the PPB responded to four “significant shooting incidents” within a 4-hour time frame, two of which were homicides. At 2:30 a.m., officers responded to a report of a shooting in the 8000 block of SE Foster Road. Officers think someone may have been injured but were unable to find any victims. At about 6:30 a.m., two shooting calls came in: a man was shot and killed near 113th and NE Sandy Boulevard and a woman was seriously injured in a shooting in the 2100 block of North Willis Street.
The chief said officers are addressing the “disturbing trend” by finding ways to work with the community on solutions as well as provide additional resources to the downtown area.
“On an incident-to-incident basis, the resources are very very important but it’s hard to say ‘if we had this many officers, we wouldn’t have this type of thing.’ I feel like this type of thing can happen but I also feel like we are under-resourced as a police department and as a city,” Lovell said. “We’ve had many years of growth as a city and a shrinking police department, frankly, and I think you can only go so long with that trend before you hit a tipping point.”
Mayor Wheeler said what the city needs is a plan.
“The plan has to acknowledge that the public safety needs of this community are changing and they’re changing fairly rapidly,” he said. “We need a 5-year plan that gets us to where we need to be in terms of tools, training and personnel. That doesn’t mean we’re going to stop doing the kinds of things that the public expects us to do to build trust with the community around accountability and transparency but we need to bring all of these pieces together in a way that makes sense for us to particularly address this gun violence issue.”
Wheeler said as of now, Portland does not have adequate resources to address increasing incidents of gun violence.
“I will fight for additional resources for the police bureau, I will fight for more police officers, and I will fight for more tools and whatever other support the police bureau needs in order to get its job done,” he said.
However, the mayor said he believes the Enhanced Community Safety Team is a “superior model as far as the investigative follow-through works” compared to the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which was dissolved in 2020. He said accountability and transparency have improved with the creation of the ECST and the Focused Intervention Team.
“I am hoping to bring attention not only to my colleagues on the city council but to the city at large about the important role the Portland Police Bureau plays around public safety,” said Wheeler. “They’re not solely responsible for the safety of the community but they are critically important element and right now, what I see, is a police bureau that does not have the adequate number of personnel or the resources that they need in order to do their job.”
Portland Police Association Executive Director Daryl Turner said the number of officers in Portland — 815 — is unacceptable for a city of this size.
“There’s nobody out there being proactive because we don’t have the resources,” Turner told KOIN 6 News. “We have drastically fewer police officers than we did in 2001-2002 yet where we were asked to do more with less.”
Watch the full press conference below.