PORTLAND, Ore. — Police made 14 arrests and towed 16 vehicles Sunday night after officers responded to reports of more than 400 vehicles gathering in Portland for illegal street-racing events.
Police were busy dealing with illegal street racers all weekend. On Saturday, officers broke up a dangerous street racing event that took over the intersection at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Northeast Columbia Boulevard.
Officers arrested one person for vandalism. According to Portland police Sgt. Kevin Allen, a person at the event reportedly fired shots into the air with a gun and people in the crowd at the street racing event threw fireworks and rocks at officers.
In a press release sent early Monday morning, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said that illegal street racing events have been a problem in Portland for years, but officers are now facing new challenges, including "street takeovers, where participants block traffic to perform stunts." Police are also seeing widespread promotion of the events on social media, including invitations to participants from other states, and an increase in aggression toward officers.
On Sunday night, officers broke up numerous street-racing events on the top deck of the Fremont Bridge, the Interstate Bridge, the Sunset Highway tunnel, and intersections including Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at Columbia Boulevard, North Marine Drive at Portsmouth Avenue and North Lombard Street at Ramsey Boulevard.
Police said 16 vehicles were towed and 14 people were arrested. Officers also detained three teenagers in a stolen car. Eight other traffic citations were issued, and there were three crashes suspected to be related to speed racing. No injuries were reported in the crashes.
KGW spoke to one young man who said he is a participant. He wanted to remain anonymous but claimed they're not street racers, saying: "We don’t street race we slide; we enjoy sliding because we love the drift, we love our cars, we love abusing or just taking all our anger out on our cars, that way we’re happy during the week."
But PPB's traffic division leader said any form of street racing is deadly dangerous, and affects drivers every day, in the end.
"We’ve seen an uptick in fatalities due to street racing on our streets, and people just aren’t differentiating between Marine Drive or MLK and Columbia to a street race on a Saturday or Sunday night. This behavior, unfortunately, carries over throughout the week on our roadways," said Captain David Abrahamson.
Abrahamson added, "If people really saw the dozen individuals here in Portland over the past three years or so that have been killed during street racing events, that would bring greater perspective."
PPB arrested 14 people but the District Attorney's Office released a new list of who was charged and who was not:
- Eric Rios, 19, of Salem: reckless driving; reckless endangerment
- Juan Magana, 24, of Salem: reckless driving
- Elizabeth Bridgewater, 24, unknown residence: attempt to elude police officer; reckless endangerment
- Adan Alejandreds-Ayala, 20, of Portland: driving under the influence of intoxicants; hit and run; attempt to elude police officer
- Kailey Morton, 22, of Rio Linda, Calif.: reckless driving
- Chanel Mussey, 21, of Portland: reckless driving; attempt to elude police officer; third-degree escape; interfering with a police officer
- Gunther Orozco, 20, unknown residence: driving under the influence of intoxicants; reckless driving; driving while suspended