Woodlawn mom: I’m going to catch a stray bullet


Longtime resident hears gunshots so often she lost count

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Molly O’Donnell has lived in the Woodlawn neighborhood since 2012. There was a lot at that time that drew her to the area.

“This appeared to be on its way to improving and I thought, you know, I want to be a part of that. I want to be in a community,” she told KOIN 6 News.

But the single mother of 4 said she might move to a new neighborhood soon and has seriously thought about selling her house because of the increasing gun violence, especially in 2020. And, she said, in she’s heard gun shots every night except one in 2021.

Previous KOIN.com stories about the Woodlawn neighborhood

O’Donnell said she’s put a lot of time and money into her house but she said it’s not safe to live in this area anymore. She doesn’t even feel comfortable going outside.

“The way I’ve had to curail my activities is, for one, I don’t walk in my own neighborhood anymore, and I used to walk every single day,” she said. “I’m home working like everybody else and I would go out and get at least some exercise. I won’t now.”

Molly O’Donnell is a longtime Woodlawn neighborhood resident fed up with the gun violence, January 2021

She hears gun shots so often — including this night — she can’t keep count anymore. Two weeks ago, her neighbors’ car was shot up.

“My kids tell me I’ve become desensitized to them,” O’Donnell said. “We heard gunshots around 10 o’clock last night and some of my kids were visiting. They left as soon as it was OK to go outside and head south, instead of northeast, which is where they were coming from.”

For her, the most shocking gunfire episode was New Year’s Eve, when her neighbors said 87 bullets hit their home while they were there with their children.

Portland police said multiple shooters in likely gang activity were firing at each other but left before police were called.

“I think it’s gangs and I don’t feel I’m the target,” O’Donnell said “What I am is, I’m going to be the stray bullet and that’s what’s frightening in this neighborhood.”

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