Man shot by Portland police was veteran suffering from PTSD

Man shot by Portland police was veteran suffering from PTSD »Play Video
Police gather on top of the Lloyd Center parking garage, where they said an armed man opened fire at two officers Monday night. The officers returned fire, hitting 32-year-old Santiago Cisneros. (KATU photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – An Army veteran who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder opened fire on two police officers when they confronted him on the top of a Portland parking garage Monday night.

The officers fired back, hitting 32-year-old Santiago A. Cisneros III, wounding him. He was taken to the hospital but later died.

The two officers in separate cars drove to the top level of the parking garage at Northeast 7th Avenue and Lloyd Boulevard and found Cisneros armed with a shotgun, Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

Seconds later, Cisneros started firing it at the officers, Simpson said. Both officers returned fire, striking Cisneros and knocking him to the ground. The shooting happened around 10:45 p.m.

Even though he was hit and down, the officers said Cisneros was still moving near his shotgun. More officers arrived and used a shield to approach the suspect and placed him in custody. Medics then took him to the hospital where he died.

Simpson said no officers were injured in the shooting.

In 2009, Cisneros was interviewed by KATU's Seattle sister-station KOMO about his battle with PTSD.

Cisneros said he tried to kill himself just eight months after leaving Iraq, and said he didn't get the help he needed from the military after he returned home.

"I fought a war back there in Iraq. I didn't know I was going to have to fight a war back here in the United States within myself," said Cisneros in 2009.

He said he never thought he would have trouble adjusting to civilian life again.

"It took a while to realize I was dealing with PTSD because I didn't know what post-traumatic stress disorder was. I had no clue," Cisneros said.

Cisneros' father, Santiago, said Tuesday that after returning from his Army service in Iraq a few years ago, his son struggled with PTSD.

He said his son had problems adjusting and it was as if "he had lost his will to live. Like he had no purpose in life anymore."

He said his son had some minor run-ins with police in years past but said his son was doing better, working with family in Seattle, and that medication helped. But he always worried.

"When the medication was working and he was taking it, I mean, he was the kindest person you'd ever want to meet," Santiago said. "And I'm not just saying this because he's my son. But that was his personality. But when he was off the medication, he was just a different person. ... I have no idea if he stopped taking his mediation or not at this point. I don't know.

"He was not the kind of person who was violent, aggressive," Santiago also said. "He was paranoid, though. I asked him one time, 'What is it that you feel? Why do you act the way you do?' He said, 'I just feel like somebody's trying to kill me ... all of the time.'"

Santiago said his son left him a note Sunday.

"The note said, 'I will see you soon. We will talk and we will laugh. Love, Ago,'" Santiago said.

He said he was shocked after he was told Tuesday morning that his son was dead.

"It felt like, almost, it was a nightmare. ... It took a little while to sink in," he said.

He said he doesn't know why his son was at that parking garage Tuesday night.

The officers who shot Cisneros are Officer Brad Kula, a 10-year veteran, and Officer Michele Boer, a four-year veteran. Both officers will be placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard policy.

Anyone with information about Santiago Cisneros, III is asked to contact detectives Rico Beniga at 503-823-0457 or Molly Daul at 503-823-0991.

KATU News reporter Emily Sinovic contributed to this report.