Friday, May 12, 2006

The Gangs That Can't Shoot Straight

Well the shooting season has begun here in Portland. Last year Portland’s shootings centered in the downtown area, my neighborhood, and they tended to be melees that erupted in gunfire. This year drive-bys are in fashion. Portland’s shooters are staying true to form, though. As always more bystanders get shot than participants.

The season got off to a rough start on April 14 in NE Portland when someone in a blue Thunderbird fired several shots into a day-care center, injuring a four year old boy. Fortunately the boy is “doing fine.” Thank God four year olds are as tough as they are.

The target in that case, Charles Crockett , finally convinced a Multnomah County judge that he poses a threat to the community. In a phone conversation with his mother, that he knew was being recorded, he said of his uncle, “He is lucky I have hanging over my head what I have hanging over my head. Someone needs to kill him."

His uncle’s crime? Telling the police that Crockett said he would “take care” of the shooters who hit his mother’s 4 year-old foster son. Judge Nely Johnson decided that Crockett poses a threat to his uncle at least and possibly to a witness in a drug case he has pending. Bail remains at $100,000 and Crockett remains in jail.

Crockett is benched for the season so far, but others are taking up the slack. Although North and Northeast Portland seem to be the popular neighborhoods for shooting this year, downtown is still in the competition.

On April 18 James Lee Sims was shot in the shoulder and wounded near the corner of SW Oak and Fifth. Sims was released from jail in October after 4½ years for assault with a deadly weapon. The Police reassured us that the shooter and the victim knew each other.

After last years bloody shooting season the Police are pretty touchy on the subject of downtown safety. "Statistically speaking, downtown Portland is relatively safe compared to other metropolitan areas," said Paul Dolbey, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman. "Very rarely do we have a stranger on stranger attack."

He may be right, but I tend to agree with Aneida Garcia, a freshman at Heritage High School in Vancouver visiting Portland. She said, “There were a lot of people around, so anyone could've gotten shot." I just wish she had paid more attention in English class. No one has been arrested in that shooting.

On April 25 Todd A. Rutherford Jr, 15 was wounded in a drive-by shooting in front of the Multnomah County Albina Library on N. Killingsworth. Nearby Jefferson High School went into lockdown as the shooters sped away. Police said it was a “gang related” shooting and that part of Killingsworth is well known as a drug activity zone which has at least one shooting every season.

Quintrell Holiman and Javier Rhone, both 17, and associated with the Hoover Crips gang, were arrested for Rutherford’s shooting on May 3. Rutherford, a student at Benson High School had been absent from school since early April, but police said they did not know the reason for the shooting.

Yesterday we had the latest entry. About 11:30pm someone in a small red sedan opened fire on three people waiting for a bus at NE 60th and Cully. Only one of the victims suffered serious injuries and all are expected to recover.

An undercover Police officer, conducting surveillance, witnessed the shooting and chased the car. The chase ended near N. Mississippi and Holman St., where everyone bailed out of the suspect vehicle.

Two men Acey Runningbird, 20, and Marcus Ball, 29 were arrested in the shooting. One suspect is still at large. The victims and the shooters in this case are Hispanic. Police are not calling the shooting “gang related” but they say there has been trouble lately among Hispanic gangs in the Cully neighborhood.

Shortly after last night’s drive-by Police had to return to the neighborhood because of reports of a man with a shotgun near NE 60th and Killingsworth, very close to Cully. Rumor is that friends of the victims are arming for revenge. It looks like we’re in for a hot summer.

Wrap up from Last Season

There is good news in the case of the LinCKoln Park Bloods. With recent action from Portland’s Gang Enforcement Unit, the gang has been crippled by the arrest and conviction of 10 members; including Colby “Li’l Shooter” Benson, who says the CK in LinCKoln means Crip Killer.

Here’s a link to the Oregonian’s coverage of this case. Thanks to Detectives Doug Halpin, Mitch Hergert and Pete Simpson, who received Commendation medals for their work against this gang and the witnesses who risked their lives to put these dangerous people behind bars.


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