Monday, June 04, 2007

Rose Festival Death

My neighborhood in downtown Portland is packed to the gills with people, parking prices have tripled and quadrupled over night and the sidewalks are lined with folding chairs. Must be Rose Festival time again in Portland.

I’m not really a Grinch, I appreciate the parades and the fireworks and the crowds of people, as much as I can. I know this is the defining time of the year for the Rose City. The weather is great and the roses are in bloom. The U.S. Navy has ships docked along the Willamette River. All of the High Schools in town have elected a court of Rose princesses. It’s a hundred year old festival this year and it’s worth celebrating.

Washington Mutual’s Waterfront Village, the carnival that used to be known as the Fun Center, has tight security and a “family-friendly” focus this year. I wonder if anyone remembers how it got that way? Oddly, enough it started ten years ago this week. June 7, 1997, to be exact.

On that balmy Portland evening Kenneth Shanafelt, 39, of Vancouver, and his wife, Robin attended a performance of the musical Beauty and the Beast at the Civic Auditorium. The play let out at about 10pm. The night was young and the parents with three small children at home with a babysitter, decided to enjoy the Rose Festival that would still be open for another two hours.

Miraculously finding a parking space near the corner of SW Salmon and 2nd Ave, the couple walked through Waterfront Park to the Fun Center. The Oregonian described it as a romantic evening and I’m sure it was. Portland is pretty this time of year and the Willamette is always a beautiful river.

The Shanafelts walked along the river looking at the imposing Naval ships, munching Portland’s trademark fry-bread treat “Elephant Ears” and sipping lemonade. Shortly before 11:30pm, they headed back toward their car for the short drive into Washington that would take them home.

Five blocks away Daniel DeJesus, 19, and his friend George Garcia were leaving a nightclub and heading for Garcia’s car to drive home to Washington County. In front of the Hilton Hotel at SW Salmon and Broadway DeJesus and Garcia ran into a group of about eight young men who didn’t like the shirt that DeJesus was wearing, an NFL jersey with the number 13 on it.

The two groups of young men traded insults and possibly some gang signs. Soon they were throwing punches and a general melee broke out. DeJesus grabbed a .357 magnum pistol from Garcia’s pocket and began firing at their opponents. Garcia, told the Oregonian, that he heard four shots as he ran for his car and sped back to pick up his friend.

One bullet hit a bus shelter at SW Fifth and Salmon, spraying 20-year-old Mercedes Munden’s face with broken glass and injuring her severely.

Robin Shanafelt heard the gunshots as she and Kenneth approached their car. She said they sounded like firecrackers. Then Kenneth dropped to the ground. She didn’t know what happened at first, but then she saw the blood and his head wound. Two passing women helped her stop the bleeding and perform CPR, but it was too late. Kenneth Bryan Shanafelt, father of four and teacher of Truck Driving Safety was dead.

Shanafelt’s death didn’t really have anything to do with the Rose Festival or the Pepsi Fun Center, but it was such a shocking crime that it drew major attention to the festival. The next year security was tightened, but a stabbing incident in a parking lot near the Fun Center increased the pressure. [I’ll tell you about Anthony Nnoli and Andy Borlande another time.]

In 1999 they fenced in the fun center for the first time. Then came WTO, and May Day and then 9/11. And that children, is why we can’t even drive on Naito Parkway at this time of year.

Daniel DeJesus plead no contest to charges of manslaughter and was sentenced to 23 years. Prosecutors wanted to charge him with murder and were sure they could convict him, but Robin Shanfelt said that she did not see the young man as a murderer and wanted to spare her family the trauma of a trial. She urged them to accept the manslaughter plea.

Not all of Shanafelt’s family were so forgiving. Bill McGinty, Shanafelt’s step-father, told the Oregonian, “I’m 54 years old and I have never been so full of hate and anger as I am now.”

Amber Shanafelt, Kenneth’s oldest daughter who was 17 when he died, was badly traumatized by her father’s death. She suffered nightmares, panic attacks, fits of shaking and paralysis as a result of post-traumatic stress. Those are all normal symptoms and I’m sure over the last ten years they have abated, but I bet they haven’t gone away completely. I also bet that Amber’s startle reflex can be exaggerated, especially when she hears loud bangs.

None of this, of course has made Portland any safer. Random bullets still fly, lethally in May, 2005 when a 41-year old transient was killed by a gun fired at someone else a block away. That happened at SW 2nd and Yamhill , about a block from where Kenneth Shanafelt died.

I think Judge Kimberly Frankel said it best when she was sentencing DeJesus: “I can stop Mr. DeJesus by imprisoning him for a time. What I don’t understand is how to stop the next person and the next person. I’m disgusted.”


Blogger Robin said...

Hi JD,

So I’m sitting here in my cube on my lunch break thinking about the significance of this day. June 7, 2007. Ten years. I decided to Google “Kenneth Shanafelt” to who else might be thinking about this day and the man we all lost a decade ago. I found your blog. Thanks for remembering. – Robin

12:40 PM  
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10:15 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

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11:48 PM  
Blogger smottical said...

This comment is not specific to this particular entry - your blog is wonderful. This is a fascinating look at the darker side of Portland, which is of course a city with a complex and interesting criminal history. Have you considered expanding any of this into a book? I know of a publisher that would be very likely to take an interest in something like that. I'd love to email you about this, but I don't see a link to your email address on this site - mine is available on my blogger profile.

11:05 AM  
Blogger amber said...

wow, how did you know about my panic attacks and my post traumatic stress disorder? it has taken me a very long time to get over all of this and try to get some sort of understanding as to why that day had to happen. it left me with no father, which happen to be the only stable parent in my life. i have grown up very fast since then, i had to. im married now with children and we refuse to ever go down there. thanks for your kind words btw- amber.

8:05 PM  
Blogger jd chandler said...

amber - thanks for commenting. you were mentioned in an Oregonian article that said something about your post-traumatic effect, but I have been there too. murder hurts survivors as much as it does the victims and the symptoms you experienced are very common. if you would like to talk more about it please email me at it sounds like you are doing very well, but some of these symptoms hang on a long time and there is treatment available if you need or want it. god bless you.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Clark said...

Hi there, I love your blog. I am a student who is doing research on crime rates in Portland in the late 19th century. Do you know much about 1893? Also, where are some places that I could go to do reasearch on this subject?



11:21 PM  
Blogger avgjoe27 said...


sorry to post this on here but i dont know were else to go. You mentiond Anthony nnoli in this article he was a friend of mine. i would like to to find a story of his death if you happen to know were to go to ge it that would be great.

2:52 AM  
Blogger jd chandler said...

avgjoe27 --

i only know of the stories in the Oregonian around the time of Nnoli's death. I have been wanting to write something about what happened, but i don't know too much. i would appreciate anything you can tell me. you can email me at

8:51 AM  
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10:05 PM  
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1:15 AM  
Blogger Champs said...

This should not be end of Rose Festival...

Cheers :)
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2:40 AM  
Blogger catalina.Jesus said...

Yes it left them with out their father. But nobody ever stops to think about Daniel de Jesus family either. I lost my brother he was on his path to getting out of the gang. He had a job.
My family lost the only male we had. My mother suffered for her sons mistake. My three sisters, our mom, myself we didn't eat the whole time he was being tried.
You don't know what its like to come home and see your brother being hauled away and not even being able to hug him. To have everyone hide you from what's going on.
Im sorry this happened but more than one life was lost.

10:14 PM  
Blogger jd chandler said...


thank you for your comment. you make a very important point. there are a minimum of two victims in every murder and most of them hurt far more than that.

i would love to discuss your story with you. will you please email me

11:07 PM  
Blogger Ben King said...

I often think of that nite . I'm glad I listen to my gut. What a horrible nite. I knew Daniel and George or Stranger and Sambo there nicknames.. Daniel use to tell me how he wanted to change and how his mom and sister were always upset with him. Daniel was always ready and always had something to prove. That nite someone knew and used it. I often think of Daniel. He never had a chance to stop being a gangster. I know what he did was awful and I'm not making any excuses I got to know him we talk when he let his guard down he was a real nice person. But when he was around certain people he was no joke. I miss my friend

4:08 AM  
Blogger jd chandler said...

Hi Ben

Thanks for the comments if you would like to share more about your friends I would be very interested. You can email me art

9:46 AM  

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