This report was originally posted by our sister blog, the Portland Mercury, on Sunday, February 20. Read the Mercury team's reporting every day on their blog, Blogtown.
UPDATE: Sunday, 4:15 pm —
One woman who was hit by the shooter on Saturday evening shared her experience in writing with the Mercury on Sunday. She requested anonymity, out of fear for her safety. She said she and three other women were standing in the middle of a street near NE 55 and NE Hassalo, working as traffic safety volunteers to steer traffic away from the planned march. All women were allegedly unarmed.
The woman described seeing a man angrily walking towards them after exiting a house.
“We were unarmed and actively working to de-escalate him and get him to leave,” she told the Mercury. “He wasn’t threatened by us. He walked up to us yelling about protesters in his neighborhood and opened fire within 90 seconds.”
She said she was standing about ten feet away from the man when he shot her, and bullets also grazed her knee and arm. Another woman was shot in the stomach, leg, and chest. Another was hit in the neck. The fourth woman was fatally shot. The woman who spoke with the Mercury said that volunteer street medics were the first on the scene to respond to their injuries.
The woman said the entire encounter was recorded on her GoPro camera, which the police confiscated as evidence.
She said she was discharged from OHSU at midnight Saturday, along with another of the injured women. She said she was surprised to learn that paramedics also took the shooter to OHSU.
She said that she’s been volunteering to help with traffic control since June 2020, and has volunteered at at least 200 protests since. During that time, she said she’s been maced, hit by drivers, and assaulted by members of the public, but had never been shot at.
"We show up voluntarily to put ourselves between people exercising their first amendment rights and outsiders who would kill them for doing so,” she said. “We did our jobs.”
UPDATE: Sunday, 3:20 pm —
In an afternoon press conference, PPB spokesperson Nathan Sheppard said he couldn't confirm or deny whether or not anyone was arrested in relation to the Saturday evening shooting. Sheppard claimed that it would be "irresponsible" to share this information, because the investigation has been "very complicated."
Sheppard did not offer any other new information about the incident.
UPDATE: Sunday, 12:50 pm —
PPB investigators allege that the Saturday night shooting at Normandale Park was sparked by "a confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters." They did not clarify what the homeowner or protesters were armed with. Police have not said whether or not they arrested anyone in connection to the shooting. PPB did, however, point blame at witnesses for not speaking to police at the scene.
"The scene was extremely chaotic, and a number of witnesses were uncooperative with responding officers," reads a PPB statement. "Most people on scene left without talking to police."
UPDATE: Sunday, 11:30 am —
Some Portland City Commissioners have commented on the Saturday shooting. In a statement sent to the Mercury, Commissioner Carmen Rubio said she was "deeply saddened" by the evening's shooting.
"Last night's violence is a stark reminder that the collective work of government and community groups must get to the root causes of gun violence," said Rubio. "We must continue to move the gears toward building a community-centered public safety ecosystem and tackle this issue once and for all. As Parks Commissioner, it is my priority that our parks remain welcoming and safe community space."
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called the incident "heartbreaking" in an email to the Mercury.
"I am closely following developments around the violence that took place last night and awaiting more information," she said. "My thoughts are with the victims' families and loved ones, and all those harmed. While we need more information about what transpired, I can say that protesting for racial justice should never endanger those exercising their 1st amendment rights.”
Commissioner Mingus Mapps sent the Mercury this statement:
“I am awaiting details about the tragedy at Normandale Park last night. My thoughts are with the victims and the first responders. We have a public safety crisis, and it is affecting everyone.”
Commissioner Dan Ryan called the incident a "tragedy," pointing to the city's high rate of gun violence.
“I worry our community is becoming numb to this unacceptable level of violence," said Ryan. "I am awaiting further updates on this situation from Mayor Wheeler and the Portland Police Bureau. For now, I ask everyone to allow the investigation to occur so we can better understand how this happened. I also ask you to show up with kindness and gentleness, to help calm our City, to love your neighbor, and to help Portland be safe for children, elders, and everyone in between.”
And a spokesperson for Mayor Ted Wheeler said Wheeler is still awaiting more details before commenting on the shooting.
ORIGINAL STORY: Sunday, 10:30 am —
A woman is dead and five others are injured after gunfire broke out during a protest against police killings in Northeast Portland on Saturday evening.
The Normandale Park demonstration was organized to demand justice for Amir Locke, a Black man killed on February 2 by Minneapolis police serving a no-knock warrant. About 50 protesters gathered at the park around 7 pm in preparation to march within the hour.
Several attendees told OPB that they saw a person come out of a home near the park and confront the group, before allegedly shooting into the crowd. It's not clear if more than one person fired a gun. The shooting appeared to take place before the march began. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) reports receiving a 911 call about the incident at 8:01 pm.
Police report that six people at the scene were hit by gunshots. One woman was killed by the gunfire, while two men and three women were sent to nearby hospitals with injuries. None of the victims' identities have been made public.
While PPB has not announced that any arrests were made at the scene, some demonstrators report that they witnessed officers arrest at least two people.
Portland has been plagued with gun violence in the past several years, with 2021 seeing the highest number of fatal shootings in 30 years. Police say the shots fired in 2022 are already on track to meet last year's record.