PORTLAND, Oregon —
Portland has had more homicides in 2020 than any other year in the past 27 years.
Fifty-two people died by homicide in the city, the most since 1993 when 54 people were killed.
The killings come at a time the city is wracked by gun violence.
The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) reports that since Jan.1, there were 858 separate shooting incidents in which 224 people were hit by bullets, including those who died.
This week alone, five people were killed.
The most recent involved a woman shot and killed in front of her husband, according to District Attorney Mike Schmidt. It happened Thursday night near Legacy Emanuel hospital in Northeast Portland.
Another was 44-year old Mike Arthur. He was working at the Cured Green marijuana dispensary on North Lombard Monday night and was killed during a robbery. His brother Loren is still trying to understand why.
"If they had asked Mike, he would have done everything he could to help them right? He’s not someone you need to take from -- if you need. He has spent his whole life giving to the community,” Loren said.
Even hardened police officers find the violence alarming.
“Well its shocking,” said Sgt. Kenneth Duilio. He’s worked as a Portland cop for 23 years, most of his career being focused on stopping shootings.
“In all the years I worked trying to reduce gun violence, there would always be spikes. This is an astronomical spike," he said.
Sgt. Duilio was part of the city’s gun violence reduction team. It was disbanded in early July. Activists accused the team of unfairly targeting people of color. It’s a charge that PPB Chief Chuck Lovell, who is African-American, said was not accurate.
Still, the team was defunded during the summer's racial protests, and the officers in the unit scattered to other duties.
Duilio thinks it’s a big reason there are so many shootings now.
“Right now, I think some of these people involved in gun violence, they're kind of rolling around the city looking for their enemies and there's really no consequences," said Duilio. "They're not really, you know, afraid that the police are gonna stop them -- that they might get arrested, they might get caught with a gun. And so they just kind of got a free pass."
Police do still investigate shootings but there is no dedicated team focused on gun violence.
Sgt. Duilio said investigators might find 20 to 30 bullet casings at shooting scenes in the past. Now, he said it's common for police to find 50 to 60 casings or more.
“Sometimes it is a shootout between two different groups. And there might be three or four shooters on one side and three or four shooters on the other side, and potentially you know just with the sheer number of shots fired somebody’s most likely to get hit. And sometimes, unfortunately, that's innocent people too."
Last weekend, Dhulfiqar Mseer, a 23-year-old from Iraq who was driving for Uber stopped to pick up a ride in the Woodlawn neighborhood. He got caught in the cross fire of at least 60 bullets and later died at the hospital.
Sgt. Duilio said virtually all of Portland's gang-related shootings are connected, retaliation or payback for a past shooting.
“They're all connected. And some of these connections don't just go back for a few weeks or a few months. They go back years and years,” he said.
The police bureau’s budget has been cut by the millions, and it's unclear whether the city has a plan to slow or stop the shootings.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler at first supported disbanding the specialty gun team early this past summer. Then after it was broken up, the mayor suggested he might bring part or all of it back. But so far, that has not happened.
The district attorney’s office released a list of names of people who were killed in the city of Portland in 2020. Five of the 52 names are missing, at least two of them because family still needed to be notified.
- Aaron Danielson
- Abdishukri Uren
- Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears
- Amber Marie Coughtry
- Anthony Tyler McNaughton
- Benjamin Johnson
- Billy Lewnes
- Cassy Leaton
- Christopher Klein
- Cody Nicholas Vickers
- Darryl Antonio Lewis
- De'Andre Rouse
- DeAnnzello McDonald
- Derrick James Jensen
- Dhulfiqar Kareem Mseer
- Dominique Marcel Dunn
- Elmer Hughes
- Erick Antelmo Torres Hernandez
- Eunice Castillo-Ross
- Evelin Navarro-Barajas
- Gabriel Elain Rivera
- Gus Komas
- Harold Andrew Major
- Huarleen Bain
- Ian Alexander Phillips
- Iryonna Bynum
- Jaelin James Scott
- James Allen Anderson
- James Richard Greenwood
- Jeffrey Sloan
- Jimmy Lee Melton
- Jordan Louis
- Julian Heredia
- Julio Montee
- Kenneth Lee Griffin
- Lasalle Jamal Shakier Jr.
- Lawrence Murphy
- Lee Hudson
- Lori Steltz
- Matthew Choi
- Michael Arthur
- Michael Epps Jr.
- Milo Raney-Hill
- Mister Ford
- Nadezhda Volobuev
- Najaf "Nate" Hobbs
- Noah Terry