PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland is in the midst of dealing with a rash of gun violence, with one neighborhood having the highest number in 2020: Hazelwood.
According to Portland Police Bureau data, there were 893 shootings in the city in 2020 — a record by far — and is 500 more than the number of shootings that occurred in 2019. More than 200 of those 2020 shootings resulted in at least one injury, and close to half of all shootings in 2020 occurred in East Portland.
Hazelwood had the highest number of shootings of any Portland neighborhood in 2020, with 79 reported shooting incidents. Hazelwood had 25 shootings where injuries occurred, also more than any other neighborhood in that data set.
KOIN 6 News reached out to people in Hazelwood for their reaction to the high number of shootings. We spoke with people who either live, work or just shop and recreate in the Northeast Portland neighborhood.
“It doesn’t surprise me because the city overlooks East Portland, especially Hazelwood. It’s been that way for years,” said Tom Coffey when we caught up to him while he was walking his dog at East Holladay Park. “There’s no representation from this part of town in the local government and we’re the last ones that they think about for everything.”
Portland Police Bureau’s shooting incident statistics (PPB).
When told about the high number of shootings, Camiegh Phillips, just outside a nearby WinCo, said: “I kind of think that’s kind of sad. We live in a part of Portland that’s kind of, you know, good. And I kind of feel like we got to do better in the community. It doesn’t matter where you stay from, where you are from, there shouldn’t be no high police brutality. I’m a Black woman, as you can see, and I kind of feel like as long as we do better, and we keep on, you know, striving to do better, then we can become better.”
Phillips went on to say that she thinks something should be done about it and that she believes police are trying hard to do something about it, but “people are going to do what they want to do.”
“It’s really a scary thing,” said Heather Fare, who said she works at the Blackburn Center, a housing and health center in Hazelwood designed to give more people access to primary care, recovery and mental health services, housing and employment assistance as part of Central City Concern.
“I know that people have witnessed shootings. And a lot of people come here for doctors appointments or also here for the recovery and it makes them feel like it’s not safe if shootings are going on,” Fare said over the lunch hour at Ventura Park.
KOIN 6 News talked to Duane Monroe outside Mall 205 where he said he was doing some shopping in Hazelwood, but lives in the neighborhood on Mt. Tabor right next door.
“It’s unfortunate, obviously. My sense is the city needs to put more resources into some of these less affluent neighborhoods. I don’t know if that would mean more police presence. But certainly making these areas more livable, you know, sidewalks and street repair and just lifting the standard of living for people might help, is my sense,” he said.
“In 2020, due to the shutdowns, the virus and the uncertainty of not having a job…the election’s over, but I felt that was another factor…with all that, a lot of people were angry at the current state of our country,” said Tyrik Aikee, who said he’s a “human spreading humanity,” outside the Gateway Fred Meyer. “Because honestly, all the situations could’ve been avoided.”
“Everybody–this is the wrong time for violence. We’re about to be shut down from COVID,” said one woman, who wished to remain anonymous, outside the Gateway Transit center.
A man who was skateboarding at Gateway Discovery Park, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said he thought socio economic divides played a factor: “The affordability pocket has been so condensed…this is really the only place left for people who used to live in North Portland.”
Hazelwood is home to many shopping areas, like Mall 205, Gateway Shopping area and Fred Meyer. The neighborhood is also home to Gateway Discovery Park, Ventura Park, the Glendoveer Golf Course and Gateway MAX stop. It is also home to several schools, including elementary schools.
When asked whether there was a reason for there being a higher number of shootings in Hazelwood as compared to other neighborhoods in 2020, Portland Police’s Sergeant Kevin Allen said, via email Friday, “there’s no clear reason why Hazelwood has been suffering by gun violence more than others.”
“The chief spoke extensively on the topic of gun violence, and how PPB is happy to join with a larger community strategy around prevention and response,” Allen said in reference to a Thursday press conference in which Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the bureau has been working on a plan to combat violence in the city. “Those conversations are happening with urgency, knowing that the gun violence situation in our community continues to be extremely serious.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2010, from the website Statistical Atlas, the neighborhood is the second most populated one in Portland, with more than 23 thousand people, falling just behind the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood at more than 25 thousand. However Hazelwood is not very densely populated, ranking in at 49 out of 102 with 5.77 thousand people per square mile.
In 2021, so far, there have been approximately 105 shootings in Portland with more than 30 of those involving non-fatal injuries, Portland police said. There have been six gun-related homicides so far this year.
On New Year’s Day, one person was seriously injured in a shooting in Hazelwood for which the police are still seeking the suspect or suspects.
Police said their open data dashboard about shooting incidents in the city is updated with the latest data on the 15th each month. The latest update as of this writing was Jan. 15.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from Portland Police Bureau, which we did not receive until after the story’s initial publication.