PORTLAND, Ore. — Authorities say a 45-year-old man told police he shot and killed two people in a Portland apartment building on Sunday after voices inside his head told him to shoot people while he was under the influence of methamphetamine, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported that Michael S. VanDomelen pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder during an arraignment in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Monday.
The deaths Sunday, which mark the 71st and 72nd homicides this year in Portland, are the latest in the city’s deadliest year — surpassing the previous record of 70 set in 1987, according to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
On Sunday at around 6:25 a.m., PPB officers responded to a report that shots had been fired on the third floor of an apartment building located at 310 NW 6th Ave. Officers found two victims when they arrived, a man and woman. Police later identified the victims as Daniel C. Davis, 47, of Portland, and Ashlie D. Walker, 37, of Portland.
Officers found VanDomelen at the scene and detained and arrested him.
While officers were arresting VanDomelen, he told them he had a gun in his pocket, according to court documents. They found a 9mm handgun and two loaded 9mm magazines in his pocket.
According to the probable cause affidavit, officers spoke to a witness who also lives in the building. The witness told police they left their room after hearing shots and saw the two victims inside an open apartment room nearby. The witness said the male victim was making noises but was unresponsive when the witness asked who shot him.
VanDomelen came into the hallway and when the witness asked if VanDomelen knew who shot the two victims, VanDomelen said, "I did." VanDomelen then told the witness he wanted to put the male victim out of his misery. The witness said they walked away from VanDomelen, after which they heard another gunshot.
According to detectives, surveillance video from the apartment hallway shows VanDomelen point a gun into the apartment where the two victims were found. The video shows him speak to another person in the hallway and then point the gun into the apartment again.
In an interview with a detective, VanDomelen said he was friends with the man and that he shot him. He told the detective there was also a woman inside the room. He said he'd used methamphetamine several times in the hours leading up to the shooting and said he heard voices telling him to shoot people, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The two fatal shootings Sunday were part of another violent weekend in Portland, with officers responding to 19 shootings from Friday through early Sunday morning. There have been more than 1,040 shootings in Portland in 2021.
Portland police Chief Chuck Lovell tweeted about the gun violence issue on Monday night.
"It's a complex problem, and there are many community members/groups that are working hard to address it," Lovell tweeted. "PPB is a part of that effort to address this violence. The Focused Intervention Team position has been posted and we're now recruiting some great PPB officers. More soon."