FBI agents to pair up with Portland cops downtown after deadly shooting

Police say the extra officers will provide a “high visibility presence" after a shooting last week killed one person and wounded six


By Maxine Bernstein
oregonlive.com

PORTLAND, Ore. — FBI agents will pair up with officers in the Portland police Enhanced Community Safety Team to provide more coverage in downtown Friday and Saturday nights in the wake of a mass shooting that killed an 18-year-old and wounded six others last Saturday.

The weekend also marks the kickoff of a formal grand reopening of the city center after a year of upheaval.

Police investigate an overnight shooting Saturday, July 17, 2021 in Portland, Ore. Police said one person died and at least six people were injured in an early morning shooting Saturday in Portland, Oregon.
Police investigate an overnight shooting Saturday, July 17, 2021 in Portland, Ore. Police said one person died and at least six people were injured in an early morning shooting Saturday in Portland, Oregon. (Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP)

Police plan to pull officers from their North and East precincts to bolster Central Precinct patrols in the downtown core, provide more overtime for the increased coverage and have FBI agents ride-along with certain officers.

The bureau’s Enhanced Community Safety Team — made up of three sergeants, 12 officers and six detectives — already has been working closely with the FBI to respond to shooting scenes, examine evidence, interview witnesses and do follow-up investigations. An FBI-led task force was created in April to work closely with Portland police to build cases against people responsible for the significant rise in shootings in the city.

“Last week’s tragic shooting reverberated throughout the community,” Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. “We are seeing almost nightly gun violence, but as things open up, we want people to feel safe, as they come downtown and gather in the Entertainment District. We are trying to use our resources effectively in order to accomplish this while also responding to 911 calls.”

The extra downtown coverage, at this point, is planned only for this weekend.

The added officers are to provide a “high visibility presence” to try to deter violence, police said in a statement.

“We’ll reevaluate going forward,” said Sgt. Kevin Allen, a bureau spokesman.

Walter Wyler, co-chair and president of the Portland Downtown Neighborhood Association, said he welcomes the added police presence.

“I personally believe that downtown safety is essential for our city to recover. I’m in favor of providing a safe environment for employees and customers coming into city,” he said. ``Police don’t have to be rough in the neighborhoods, they don’t have to make arrests, but their presence matters. And weekends are a priority when it comes to police presence.”

With the extra focus on the city’s downtown, East and North precincts will respond to high-priority emergency calls but their responses to some lower-level calls for service may be delayed, police said. They asked people to report nonemergency calls online.

Last Saturday about 2 a.m., 18-year-old Makayla Maree Harris was killed and six others wounded in a suspected drive-by shooting on Southwest Third Avenue near Harvey Milk Street. No arrests have been made.

The shooting followed a shooting in late June in Old Town’s entertainment district near Northwest Fourth Avenue and Couch Street that wounded two men and sent patrons flooding out of a nearby bar.

The Police Bureau used to have officers assigned to a special entertainment district detail but that was halted during the pandemic and hasn’t returned.

Oregonian Staff Writer Savannah Eadens contributed to this story.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit oregonlive.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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