Police: Two homeless men shot in 'drive-by' under Morrison Bridge

Police: Two homeless men shot in 'drive-by' under Morrison Bridge »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland police said two homeless men were shot as they slept early Wednesday morning under the Morrison Street Bridge.

One man was taken to a hospital with a bullet wound in the chest. Another man was grazed by a bullet.

Lt. Robert King with the Portland Police Bureau said officers responded to a shooting call at about 5:12 a.m. near the east side of the Morrison Street Bridge.

King said the man shot in the chest was alert and conscious when he was taken to the hospital. Police described his condition as possibly life-threatening.

The victims' names have not been released.

Police said witnesses told them that the men were shot in a "drive-by" type shooting by a suspect shooting from a pickup truck. The truck is described as a black, newer model with four doors and no canopy.

Tim Varner, a homeless man who said he sleeps on the street a block from the scene of the shooting, said he didn't worry about his safety before the shooting. "I sleep here every night,  usually alone," Varner said. "it scares me because I... it could be me next. I don’t want to get shot in the middle of the night when I’m asleep."

Varner said the shooting was "gonna scare a lot of people."

Celia Soltero, an employee of a courier company located near the scene of the shooting, said she  usually saw the two homeless men when she got to work and that they always slept in the same place. "I’ll wave and say "hi" and the other one’s usually still sleeping," she said.

"There’s a spot over there and he usually has, like, this big bed and everything set up and when I get here in the morning, he’s getting everything in his car getting ready to leave," Soltero said of one of the victims. "It baffles me that someone would do that to some random person," she added.

King said he has "never seen a crime like this before where someone would shoot at a sleeping homeless person." He called the crime "shocking."

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish issued a statement Wednesday morning following the shooting, condemning "the perpetrator of this ugly act of violence."

"Homeless men, women, and children living on our streets are particularly vulnerable to violent acts," Fish said. "In the City's 2011 Street Count, nearly half of those who completed a survey reported being the victim of physical violence or attack."

Fish said the city is making progress on efforts to end homelessness, including the operation of Bud Clark Commons, a facility that can house 220 homeless people that opened in June of 2011.

"This shameful criminal act reminds us that everyone in our community deserves a safe and decent place to call home," Fish said in the press release.

Forensic investigators and homicide detectives are investigating the shooting. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call homicide detectives at (503) 823-0400.