PORTLAND, Ore. – The mother on her way home from visiting the zoo with her son Thursday night said the 11-year-old boy who flashed a gun at her on a MAX train was harassing her.
Police arrested the boy and KATU News learned Friday afternoon that he is a brother of Portland murder victim 14-year-old Yashanee Vaughn. She disappeared last March near Rocky Butte. Police say her former boyfriend, Parrish Bennette, led them to where her body was hidden on the butte.
An argument started after a group of kids got on the train at the Skidmore Fountain station and one of them bumped the mother's stroller. She said they started kicking it so hard that a soda on top of it fell on her child who was seated in the stroller. She said she tried to move to another seat but the group followed her and started cursing at her. Then the 11-year-old boy lifted his shirt and flashed a gun in his waistband. She said when he started to pull it out she backed away and he put the gun back.
When it was all happening, the mother, who did not want to be identified, said she panicked at first, fearing the boy might use the gun.
"He stands up and sticks his hand down his pants, and I don't see anything particularly but I see more than his hand – more of bulge," she said. "I don't know exactly, but my instincts just told me what it was. ... Yeah, it was a mamma bear instinct. I instantly got on the phone. I didn't know what else to do."
The mother then called 911 while her friend distracted the kids. The train stopped at the Old Town/Chinatown stop and the 11-year-old was taken into custody after the mother pointed him out to police.
The mother said she was worried about what would have happened if she hadn't called police.
"I see this kid. I believe he has a gun. I don't want to let him go."
Police said he had a loaded .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his waistband. They also said another boy on the train, a 13-year-old, had a BB gun in his backpack. He was also taken into custody.
In court Friday the 11-year-old boy was in tears and kept his head down the entire time.
The judge ordered the boy to be held in juvenile custody through the weekend. He faces six charges.
Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said in his 18-year career he's never seen or heard of a case where an 11-year-old was armed and confrontational in public.
"People in the community are scratching their head going, what in the world could be going on that an 11-year-old has a gun and that is his resolution to a conflict where you bump into a baby stroller to pull a gun," he said.
Riders on the MAX Friday were shocked that an 11-year-old was carrying a loaded gun.
"Where were his parents?" asked Andrew Stukey who was riding the MAX from Hillsboro. "How does an 11-year-old get a hold of a handgun?"
Police say they don't yet know how or where the boy got the gun, but they know it did not come from his parents.
KATU News reporter Anita Kissée contributed to this report.