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Regional Interests

Law enforcement plans weekend presence as deaths, shootings continue in Portland area

Portland city leaders and law enforcement issued statements late Friday, saying officers would be on the streets over the weekend in an effort to deter rising gun violence in the city.

“Enough is enough. Portland is not supposed to be this way,” wrote Keiran Ramsey, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Our biggest hope with this overt effort is that we can stop the seemingly indiscriminate cycle of violence.”

Members of the Portland Police Bureau’s Enhanced Community Safety Team and the FBI plan to have officers present in areas of the metro area that have seen significant spikes in gun violence this year.

“There are random, innocent victims who did nothing more than be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ramsey said in his statement.

News of the increased law enforcement presence came Friday after Portland police announced that Danae Williams, 25, was the latest person killed in a shooting. Williams and an unidentified man were critically wounded in a Woodlawn neighborhood shooting Wednesday. Williams died in the hospital Friday, but police said they expect the man to survive.

Williams was the second person to die from shootings that took place Wednesday. Earlier in the week, Portland police announced that 33-year-old Jalon Yoakum had been killed in a shooting. Yoakum is the stepson of Portland Pastor Matt Hennessee, who has frequently been at the side of city leaders in efforts to curb gun violence. Shootings this week also injured several people, including a newspaper carrier in Northeast Portland.

“There is an urgent need for everyone to recognize and respond to the profound and lasting harms inflicted by gun violence,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt wrote in a statement. “I join community leaders and law enforcement to say I am worried about retaliatory and targeted shootings that may occur at funerals and vigils after someone is murdered.”

After a Gresham shooting in April, seven people were shot at a vigil for the original victim.

Portland has seen 31 homicides so far in 2021. Of the people killed, 23 have died as a result of gunshots, according to Sgt. Kevin Allen of the Portland Police Bureau. At this point last year, the city had recorded just four homicides. In 2019, that figure was just three deaths. Police said they have documented at least 388 shootings this year that were not suicide attempts. By contrast, from January through the end of May 2020, there were 200 shootings and 44 injuries, Allen said.

“There’s no question that there has been a shocking increase over last year,” he remarked.

The Portland City Council issued a joint statement Friday, saying they hoped increased law enforcement this weekend can help break a cycle of retaliatory violence.

“Their high visibility presence in the community is intended to deter anyone considering committing criminal acts,” the council said in its statement. “Crime Prevention Outreach workers from Office of Violence Prevention will also be in the community where needed to provide support and ease tensions.”

The City Council said it learned this week that groups from Washington and California may also be in Portland and contributing to the gun violence.

“Groups involved in this violence have issued an order to shoot someone in the next 30 days or be shot for not showing loyalty,” the council wrote.

Whether the increased law enforcement presence over the weekend has an effect remains to be seen. By Saturday morning, roughly 12 hours after the City Council and law enforcement statements, Portland police officers reported another shooting in Ventura Park in Southeast Portland. A woman was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Jalon Yoakum, 33, was killed in a shooting near the intersection of NE 118th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 in Portland.
Portland Police Bureau /
Jalon Yoakum, 33, was killed in a shooting near the intersection of NE 118th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 in Portland.

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