PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After years of doing landscape and maintenance work for others, Joshua Morrison was finally making progress on his own house in Southeast Portland.
The 46-year-old had been self-employed for 20 years and bought his house in the Woodstock neighborhood along SE Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard in 2005.
“It was my lifelong dream, you know, growing up here and always wanted to own a home and be part of the community. I really liked the Woodstock neighborhood.”
He said he threw a lot of barbecue parties for friends and family and he was getting ready for one on March 11, 2018 — “a beautiful Sunday, the very first 70-degree day that we had” — when he heard frantic knocking at his front door.
Answering that door knock changed his entire life.
‘She starts hitting me in the face’
“I saw a woman crying, with mascara running down her face. And she was frantic,” Morrison told KOIN 6 News. “She was saying, ‘Help! I need help! I need to come in!'”
She claimed she was trying to get away from her abusive boyfriend.
“The boyfriend, supposedly, and another guy were across the street, which was a bus stop, and they were pacing back and forth looking at me, very, like, very mean because I was helping her.”
Morrison let her in and planned to call police.
“She starts hitting me in the face, like, just starts punching me and completely threw me off. I mean, completely threw me off.”
As he tried to push her outside, the 2 men also showed up and started attacking Morrison.
“It was pretty much fight for my life,” he said. “Then they knocked me out.”
He was in and out of consciousness as the 3 suspects ransacked his home.
“They ziptied my hands behind my back,” he said, and at one point he woke up to the barrel of his own shotgun — “a double barrel Stagecoach” — pointed at his head.
“Before he pulled the trigger my life just, like, flashed. My whole childhood, my just everything.”
But the gun wasn’t loaded, so the suspect beat Morrison with “the butt of the shotgun while I was on the ground with my hands ziptied behind my back.”
The other 2 suspects continued to literally tear apart his home. They threatened to kill his cat, Watson, and broke the 15-year-old cat’s shoulder.
The basement safe
In his basement was a safe that came with the house. He said the safe was behind a mirror in the bathroom “and it doesn’t lock.”
Inside that safe was $92,000, money he had saved over 20 years.
“Everytime I’d get paid I’d pay my bills and then I’d put a little off to the side and put it in my safe,” he said. “I worked very hard for that.”
But he admitted, “I can’t believe I actually had it there in the first place. I should have had it in the bank where it belonged.”
While he was being beaten, he said he could hear the woman “downstairs in the basement where the safe was. ‘I found it! I found it!'”
Morrison believes whoever is behind the attack knew the money was there.
When Joshua Morrison finally came to, the house was quiet.
“My blood was everywhere,” he said. “I was so exhausted from fighting them that I tried to get up and I kept slipping on the blood that was all over the floor and I kept falling back down.”
Covered in blood, with his hands still ziptied behind his back, he finally managed to open the front door and get outside on the porch.
Help from a young person
He screamed for help, for someone to help.
Finally, he said, a young kid stopped.
“He said he was going to get help,” Morrison said. “Then the next thing I know a police officer grabbed me by the shoulder and lifted me up and said, ‘I’m here. I’m here.'”
Among the injuries he suffered in the attack was a shattered bone in his eyebrow. The bone needed to be cut out and replaced by a titanium plate with screws.
He will always be grateful to those who helped him, from the Good Samaritan — “I would love to find out who that person is” — to police and doctors, family and friends.
“All the people that helped was really amazing, so that lifts me back up with society.”
Right after the attack, Watson the cat was missing but eventually was found. Her age made shoulder surgery too risky, so she took pain medication until it healed.
But the case remains unsolved.
“I’ve just kind of lost everything I had from what happened,” he told KOIN 6 News. “Losing my financial income and having to sell my home has been really tough.”
Joshua Morrison is determined to rebuild.
“I still have emotional issues with what happened. People say I look good on the outside as far as the heal, but on the inside I’m still struggling.”
He said he’s trying to move forward and get his work life back in a normal cycle. He doesn’t want to do landscaping again and is willing to work in a restaurant kitchen or stock shelves at a grocery store.
He also hopes a tip to police will lead to justice.
“It’s just such a heinous crime, you know? I have a hard time people out there exist like that,” he said. “Somebody like that walking around the streets, I think those people need some help for what they did. You just don’t do that to another human being.”