PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – On Wednesday, a Gresham woman was driving in southeast Portland when she was caught in the middle of gun violence as a bullet pierced her car window, hitting her in the face.
Growing up in the area, she says it’s clear things have skyrocketed and believes more needs to be done, especially in areas of frequent shootings, like the stretch of Powell where she was hit.
An afternoon running errands in southeast Portland quickly landed Katie Guzenko in the hospital when she was hit in the face by a stray bullet Wednesday near SE 130th and Powell.
“I started hearing gunshots and I looked over and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from,” said Guzenko. “I started driving forward and all of a sudden my nose starts bleeding everywhere and my face is bleeding.”
The bullet grazed her cheek and went through her nose while she was driving. Detectives say they’re still looking for suspects but tell her it’s likely gang-related and two gunmen were on both sides of Powell shooting at each other when she was caught in the middle.
On Thursday, in Mayor Wheeler’s emergency gun violence declaration, he stated a goal of reducing it by 10% over the next two years. Guzenko says while she appreciates funding going into this, it doesn’t seem rigorous enough.
“Especially with how much it’s skyrocketed in the last few years, I feel they should strive toward a bigger goal,” said Guzenko.
Families who lost loved ones to gun violence also responded to the mayor’s statement, including Keely Williams whose son Aaron was shot and killed in January. On Thursday, she told KOIN 6 that while she appreciates the mayor acknowledging it’s not enough to be sorry and is creating measurable steps, she wants to hear more about how they plan to get community support to help solve crimes.
During Thursday’s press conference, Chief Chuck Lovell said the force is increasing the investigators in their homicide detail to tackle ongoing cases like that of Aaron Williams.
“We added detectives and a sergeant in order to have three teams to focus on our current homicides,” said Chief Lovell.
As Guzenko begins to heal and is thankful to be alive, she also hopes more of the mayor’s action plans — including increased surveillance in high-crime areas — will come to fruition.
“The area I was in and was hit, it’s a hot spot for crime,” said Guzenko. “More attention should be focused on that rather than just Portland in general.”
The mayor’s state of emergency is set to last through Aug. 4, but many of the plans detailed in the announcement are already underway and will be ongoing over the next few years.