Widespread burglaries, arson in Portland after police shoot a white man who pulled a gun on them

PORTLAND, OR – “Fairly aggressive” protesters hampered the investigation of a fatal police shooting involving a white man who pulled a gun on officers Friday morning in Portland. Police had to declare another riot after the protesters turned their anger on the city.

Portland Police responded to a call reporting a man in his 30’s with a gun in Lents Park on the south side at about 9:30 a.m. Friday morning.

The man was reportedly pointing a gun in the park, according to Assistant Police Chief Chris Davis.

Three officers arrived and the man drew what appeared to be a firearm, according to police sources. Two officers initially fired less-lethal 40-millimeter projectiles at the man.

A third officer then shot the man. Police and medical personnel immediately rendered first aid, but the man died at the scene.

Witnesses said the man had removed his shirt and was blocking an intersection before pulling the gun on police. The witnesses said the man appeared to be having a mental health crisis.

Police discovered after the shooting that the gun was a replica.

As police closed off the park to investigate the shooting, protesters began to gather and started shouting at police.

The crowd  shouted phrases like “Quit your jobs,” “Shame on you,” “You guys are murderers,” and “We’re sick and tired of you murdering people,” according to media reports.

Nearly 150 protesters; some dressed in helmets, goggles, and gas masks,  began to chant “Justice Now!” as about a dozen police officers dressed in riot gear arrived to control the threatening crowd.

Police announced several times over a loudspeaker that the protesters had to leave or face arrest.

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Some in the crowd chanted “black lives matter,” despite the fact that the armed man shot by police was white.

Davis said police struggled to keep the crowd from interfering with the investigation:

“We’ve had to summon just about every police officer in Multnomah County to keep this group far enough away … to preserve what we refer to in our business as the integrity of the scene, so that nobody who shouldn’t be in there goes in there.”

The crowd later marched through the park, tearing down police tape, and confronted police. Police held the crowd back until investigators completed their work around 3:30 p.m. Police reported they had to use pepper spray to hold the protesters back.

Police said the crowd hit officers with sticks as they left the scene.

The crowd then stood in traffic at a nearby intersection, blocking traffic and chanting. Eventually, the crowd began smashing windows and burglarizing businesses. Multiple fires were also set by protesters.

Police declared a riot Friday night and said they had to disperse the crowd to allow firefighters to extinguish the fires before the flames could spread.

A statement by police said:

“Officers worked to encourage dispersal and make arrests when they could. In addition to the destruction to businesses and non-profits, multiple fires were set at various locations.

“Police Bureau Officers dispersed the crowds to allow Portland Fire & Rescue to gain access to the fire locations to safely extinguish them. Given the extreme fire hazard conditions, it was critical to get these fires extinguished before they spread.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who had previously blamed violence in the city on “a segment of violent agitators,” visited the shooting scene on Friday and issued a statement:

“These shootings always are traumatic for everyone involved and for our community, regardless of the circumstances. I want to offer my sympathy to the individual involved and to their family. My thoughts also are with the officers who were involved.”

The shooting occurred in a section of Portland that is covered by the Portland Street Response, a non-law enforcement response team set up to respond to mental health calls.  

But officials said they do not respond to incidents involving  reports of a firearm.

Police update reporters on arrests made during the rioting:

– Cameron Millar-Griffin, 24 years old from Portland, was charged with riot, criminal mischief I, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct II.

-Theodore O’Brien, 22 years old from Portland, was charged with criminal mischief I.

– Skye Sodja, 43 years old from Portland, was charged with assaulting a public safety officer and disorderly conduct II.

 

Police reported that the rioting caused response delays to other emergencies within the city. In a statement, the Portland Police Bureau reported:

“At about 10:49 p.m., there were 79 holding police calls for service in the City of Portland, including priority welfare check calls, at least three calls of shots, a priority hit and run, and three burglaries.

“Two burglaries have been holding for over 13 hours. Police resources were stretched across the city to manage the calls for emergency calls for service and the riot.”

Acting Chief Davis said the protests had nothing to do with trying to improve policing or racial justice. He also issued a warning to protesters:

“Damage to businesses hurts our City. Our community has made it clear that it will not tolerate wanton violence and destruction. No one is entitled to break windows, set fires, or attack police officers.

“If you choose to participate in this kind of criminal activity, you can expect to be arrested and prosecuted.

None of this destruction tonight has anything to do with the important work of racial justice and reconciliation our community and our nation need at this critical time in our history.”

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Author: Scott A. Davis


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