PORTLAND, Ore. – The man accused of wounding a Portland police officer and killing that officer’s K-9 partner last week pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of attempted aggravated murder.
Paul Alan Ropp, 20, wore a suicide smock, which is designed to keep him from harming himself, during his first court appearance.
Ropp is accused of shooting and wounding Portland police Officer Jeffrey Dorn after a burglary last Wednesday. In addition to pleading not guilty to the attempted aggravated murder charge, Ropp also pleaded not guilty to animal charges and killing Dorn’s K-9 partner, Mick.
Meanwhile, court documents released late Monday afternoon outline the burglary and shooting. They also shed light on an attempted abduction of a man at a precious metal store and other businesses the suspects targeted or wanted to target. The documents also reveal a possible motive for the crime spree.
The court documents also say that one of the suspects, 20-year-old Steven Young, told detectives that Ropp was the person who came up with the idea to rob stores for money and also spoke of "shooting at police if they tried to stop him during the course of the robberies. ..."
In addition to Ropp and Young, 25-year-old Jemaell Riley was also arrested in the case.
Police believe Ropp was driving the SUV that police chased from the burglary of a Southwest Portland police supply store, Blumenthal's Uniform and Equipment, early last Wednesday morning. The SUV crashed on Capitol Highway.
After the crash, Ropp got out of the driver's side of the car holding an AR-15 rifle, according to the court documents. He tried to run away. Dorn and his K-9 partner, Mick, arrived at the scene and Dorn released Mick to chase down Ropp. But police say Ropp shot Mick to death and Dorn in both legs.
Riley and Young were arrested at the crash site. They also appeared in court Monday afternoon. They are believed to have been passengers in the SUV. They also entered not guilty pleas. All three suspects are supposed to be back in court early next week.
After Dorn and his police dog were shot, police searched for two hours before finally tracking down and arresting Ropp.
The only person who would speak for Ropp after his court appearance was a woman who wouldn’t give her name, but she identified herself as Ropp’s aunt.
“We’re grieving. We’re mourning. It’s affected our whole family,” the woman said. “This is 360 degrees away from who we know.”
Possible motive and possible targets
The motivation for the crime spree appeared to get money to “get a start in life,” according to the court documents. During an interview with police, Young told them he and Ropp discussed ways to make money by stealing, and they discussed possible targets.
According to the court documents, the three suspects researched possible targets using Riley’s computer. Eventually, the three suspects decide to hit a Comcast Depot on Sandy Boulevard and a T-Mobile store. They also planned to abduct the owner of a Portland precious metal store at his place of business and take him to the store’s locations and force him to empty safes and give them other property. Court documents identified that man as Dennis Johnson.
The court documents say the planned abduction and robbery of the T-Mobile store were aborted because the suspects feared people at those locations would see what they were doing.
According to the court documents, the suspects waited in a parking garage for the owner of the precious metal store to get off work. They said they set off smoke bombs inside the parking garage to create confusion, but when the doors to the parking garage's elevator opened, they saw a family was with the owner. They then decided not to go through with the planned abduction, fearing there would then be witnesses.
A co-worker told KATU that Johnson is doing OK, and they're all thankful to the officer and K-9 who sacrificed to get the suspects in jail.
But the three suspects did break into company-owned cars at the Comcast location and steal uniforms and other items, according to the court documents.
Young told detectives that he and Ropp had grown up together near The Dalles, the court documents said. He also told them that Ropp attended Portland State University. Young said Ropp introduced Riley, also a PSU student, to him.