According to Portland-based CBS-affiliate KOIN, the city logged nearly 900 shootings in 2020, compared to just 393 shootings in 2019. The city also recorded the highest number of homicides since a wave of gang violence swept through the city nearly 30 years ago.
The latest homicide incident occurred on Christmas morning, Dec. 25, when 33-year-old Jaron Weeks became the city's 53rd shooting fatality of the year. He and a second person were shot outside an apartment building in the Lloyd District of the Northeast Portland neighborhood. The second person was hospitalized and is still recovering. Weeks was identified by the Portland Police Bureau three days after the incident.
This was followed by a wave of gun violence on Dec. 26, when multiple people were sent to the hospital after a series of shootings across the city.
At around 8:30 p.m. in the Montavilla District in Northeast Portland, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) received reports of gunshots in the area. A short while later, a 15-year-old girl walked into an area hospital with a gunshot wound that was not considered to be life-threatening.
Around 9:45 p.m. in Southeast Portland, officers arrived at the scene of a gun violence incident and found multiple bullet casings, a vehicle that had been shot several times and "significant amounts of blood." While the PPB investigated the incident, a man walked into a nearby hospital with a serious gunshot wound. The man is expected to survive.
Just after 11 p.m. on the same day, PPB officers responded to the third shooting incident of the evening at the Brentwood-Darlington District in Southeast Portland. Several homes were shot at multiple times. While there were people inside the homes at the time of the incident, no injuries were reported.
The final incident occurred just moments after the third shooting. A convenience store worker in Northeast Portland reported that several shots were fired into the building he was currently working in following a heated confrontation between himself and three teenage customers. The worker confronted the individuals after he caught them attempting to steal several items. As the group ran out, several shots were fired.
Gun violence isn't the only criminal action rocking the city. There have also been multiple reports of other kinds of violent behavior, such as assault, since the beginning of the period of engineered civil unrest back in late May. PPB officials also believe that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns associated with it have also made the situation much worse.
"They know we are busy," said Derek Carman of the PPB. "So, people are more emboldened to carry firearms and use them against each other and not only one or two shots but multiple. There have been thousands of shots fired in the city this year, and it is unfortunate for the community.
Portland police have stated that they want to turn to the community for help in reducing the gun violence plaguing their city. According to one PPB officer, over 220 people have been shot in 2020, many of whom contributed to the record number of homicides.
"The number of bullets that must have been flying around our neighbors, city streets, sidewalks – it's awful," said PPB Lt. Greg Pashley.
PPB officials have traced the rise in gun violence to the sudden move to disband the bureau's Gun Violence Reduction Team. This move was made over the summer following an intense anti-police campaign by Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists and rioters who argued that the team was disproportionately targeting the city's people of color. (Related: Violent crime in Portland goes up after city council disbands elite police team.)
Since the team's disbandment, the PPB has not been able to formulate a clear plan to handle the sharp increase in gun violence. This is why they decided to ask the Portland community for help in intervening with people who may be inclined to commit acts of violence.
"Social services, government organizations, non-government organizations, church-based organizations – so that people feel as if they have support and options other than to act out violently," said Pashley.
"We've come together to mask up, to stay home to keep others safe," said PPB Chief Chuck Lovell in a televised address pleading for help. "We have come together to do our best to stop the spread of a deadly disease. Violence is also a disease that kills and our community is suffering the consequences."
Learn more about how the defund the police movement has directly led to an increase in violence in cities like Portland by reading the latest articles covering anti-police events at Violence.news.