PORTLAND, Ore. - Four officers fired shots at a robbery suspect who had a realistic looking fake gun, police said during a news conference held a few hours after the incident unfolded in Southeast Portland.
The shooting happened Monday morning on Southeast 37th Avenue between Stark and Oak Street, near the tennis courts adjoining Laurelhurst Park.
According to police, it all started when officers spotted a blue Honda Civic that they believed was connected to an armed robbery at Jae's Market on Southeast Belmont Street that had happened the day before. The thief made off with a couple hundred bucks, according to the store's owner.
The following is an account from the Portland Police Bureau on what happened the next day:
"When officers located the vehicle this morning, they noticed an adult male apparently sleeping in the car. Officers backed away from the vehicle and maintained visual surveillance of it and asked for additional resources to respond."
"A sergeant called for a limited deployment of the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) to respond with an armored vehicle and a custody team, which would be used to make a safe approach to the vehicle and make the arrest."
"Officers developed a contingency plan of conducting a high risk vehicle stop and set up spike strips to the North of the vehicle in the event the suspect tried to speed away. The primary goal was to contain the suspect in the street and not let him out into the community creating a greater risk to the public."
"As officers were awaiting the arrival of SERT, the suspect appeared to wake up and began moving around in the car. Concerned that the suspect might escape into the neighborhood, officers conducted a high risk vehicle stop and gave commands to the suspect."
"The suspect began to get out of the vehicle armed with a handgun. Four officers fired their weapons, striking the suspect. The officers then approached the suspect, secured him and the handgun, and then rendered first aid. They also called for medical personnel to respond. No officers were injured."
"The suspect was transported to an area hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. The suspect remains in fair but stable condition."
"Preliminary information indicates that the four officers fired a total of 7 rounds at the suspect."
Police later discovered that what they had thought was a handgun was actually a realistic replica of a gun (seen in the photo below from the Portland Police Bureau).
"They are sold to look like a real firearm and when people use them like a real firearm, they may get a response like they're a real firearm," said Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau. "And when you point a fake gun at a police officer, that police officer is going to respond appropriately."
Police have not revealed how many bullets hit the suspect and it is unclear at this point whether the suspect showed the gun or pointed it directly at police. Per normal police procedure, the four officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Part of Laurelhurst Park and one side street were closed Monday morning while police investigated. Mayor Sam Adams was also spotted at the scene.
"I visited the site of the officer-involved shooting that occurred this morning in Southeast Portland to evaluate the scene," the mayor said in a news release. "As in all cases regarding Portland officer-involved shootings, we take these incidents seriously and we will investigate thoroughly in conjunction with the Auditor's Independent Police Review division."
The suspect who was shot has not been identified but the owner of the market that was robbed on Sunday described him as a white man in his 20s or 30s. The video below is from the store's surveillance camera.
Anyone with information that can help investigators is asked to call Detective Chris Traynor at (503) 823-0449 or send him an email.
This is the second officer-involved shooting in Portland in recent weeks. On March 13, police officers traded gunfire with an armed man while serving a search warrant in North Portland.
No officers were hurt in that incident but the suspect who fired on them, who was not the original subject of the search warrant, ended up in serious condition at the hospital.
KATU Reporters Melanie Wingo and Erica Nochlin contributed to this report.