PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Southeast Portland neighborhood says a nearby homeless camp set up along their street has now escalated, with multiple gunshots going off feet away from homes, all caught on camera.
They’re worried someone will be hurt if this continues, but but also wants more solutions for the unhoused caught in the middle.
Nestled in Southeast Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood, David Rowe and his wife were up late last week, renovating a home. Just after 10 p.m., they heard arguing coming from a homeless camp less than a block away.
“We could hear some voices and shouting, and that’s kind of common, arguments,” Rowe said. “Then we could hear gunfire and this is not firecrackers, this is automated gunfire. Pow, pow, pow.”
They took shelter in their basement until they could find out what was going on, adding that other neighbors also later came to check in on them.
“I checked the cameras and was just astonished how close they were to the house and they were right here on the front,” Rowe said. “We’ve all talked since this time and we look out for each other and when there’s a shooting like this, especially with that many rounds going off, it’s a big concern. It’s a concern for safety and where do those bullets go and are they just going to shoot into houses next?”
Rowe said police responded that night to check for shell casings, but never saw any arrests made or anyone held accountable. While police have not confirmed if the shooter lives in the camp, Rowe added that the encampment, which has taken up both sides of SE Ash between 81st and 82nd, has rapidly grown in recent weeks.
“When they get to an encampment that has 40 or 50 different people, there’s going to be some bad elements in an otherwise peaceful camp,” Rowe said. “They don’t really have anywhere else to go so to just be sweeping them, it’s just moving the problem somewhere else.”
Still, Rowe said he believes not everyone in the camps are bad and while some who are involved in crimes like the shooting or petty theft are ruining things for everyone else, he hopes those truly in need can get help before they or someone else are a victim of the crime spilling out of the camps.
“The real victims in all of this are the poor people who really are here because they’re destitute,” Rowe said. “Now they know everyone is going to think they are a part of it but I know that is not true and I know everyone is an individual.”
We reached out to Portland Police about neighbors’ concerns and were referred to their Enhanced Community Safety Team, who we are still waiting to hear back from.