Southwest Portland

Portland Spirit shooting: An example of gangs' never-ending family cycle

Portland Spirit shooting: An example of gangs' never-ending family cycle »Play Video
Jajuan Latrell Yoakum

PORTLAND, Ore. – Gangs are a family business.

That became clear in the recent arrest of Ja’Juan Yoakum in connection with the Aug. 24 shooting at the Portland Spirit dock.

Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said that shooting shouldn’t just be classified as a “gang shooting.”

“We’re seeing an increasing amount of younger men, whose fathers were gangsters or drug dealers 10, 15, 20 years ago, that we’re dealing with,” Simpson said.

Four years ago, James Yoakum, Ja’Juan’s father, who was caught with cocaine and 35 guns, was arrested and is now serving a 13-year federal sentence.

At his sentencing, a federal judge chastised James Yoakum for fathering a total of 24 children, one of whom being Ja’Juan, between several different women with no legal way to support them.

In this case, family bonds have passed gang ties to a new generation.

“It was normal for them to see it. It was normal for them to hear about things,” Simpson said. “Many of their family members were involved. So for them not to be involved in the gangs would have almost been unusual.”

Another example of the generation of gangs was the case of Mano Gonzales. His son, Mano Junior, is a gang associate; another family member, Rico Gonzales, is serving federal time; Pedro Gonzales is also a federal prisoner; brother Alex Klein was convicted of murder; and nephew Manny Hall is a convicted felon.

Police say there are two more young, high-profile Portland gangsters with family ties: brothers Rusty and Robert Rean.

It’s a cycle that apparently has no end.

“These, you know, 21-22-year-old kids that are out gang-bangin’ heavy right now, a good number of them have small children at home or with a grandparent or a mother that, if the cycle’s not broken, in 15 years, they may be right back in the same thing,” Simpson said.

Ja'Juan Yoakum now faces three counts of attempted aggravated murder in the Portland Spirit shooting.