Man shot, killed by police spent time at protest on homeless issues
PORTLAND, Ore. - For a couple days before police shot and killed him at a parking garage near the Lloyd Center, 32-year-old Santiago Cisneros III had been at a small, continuous protest to bring attention to homeless issues in front of City Hall.
Hours before he was killed by police Monday night, KATU news cameras recorded Cisneros at City Hall while working on an unrelated story about a proposed bill regarding sidewalk regulations.
Officers said they found Cisneros, an Army veteran, armed with a shotgun on the top level of a Lloyd District parking garage. They exchanged gunfire with him. Cisneros later died at the hospital.
Cisneros had been at the City Hall protest off and on in the days just before his confrontation with police and had long talks with people there.
Those same people said they had noticed something seemed wrong.
KATU's cameras captured Cisneros in the corner of its video while a reporter interviewed a man who goes by the name "99" - for the 99 percent.
Cisneros stood quietly nearby a few feet away and listened. He stayed at City Hall until just hours before the shootout.
Cisneros never said anything to the reporter, but "99" remembered him well.
"He said, 'Man you guys, you're surrounded by great people.' And I says, 'Yeah, you're one of them.'"
Jose Serrica also remembered having in-depth discussions with Cisneros.
"He felt a connection with us, because we're out here struggling over the issues that is tearing him apart," Serrica said.
Those issues are homelessness and war. Cisneros was an Iraq veteran.
During a 2009 interview in Seattle, he opened up about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and his father spoke with KATU on Tuesday about the letter his son left him before he died.
"The note said, 'I will see you soon. We will talk and we will laugh. Love, Ago,'" his father, also named Santiago, said.
Serrica said he noticed sorrow in Cisneros and worried when he began giving things away.
"I spent a whole evening just crying for the guy because here was a young man who was basically screaming for help," he said.
"I think a veteran can go through treatment and get better, and then for whatever reason, something happens in their current life, and the post-traumatic stress is triggered again," said Deborah Zwetchkenbaum, assistant director for Lines for Life.
Zwetchkenbaum wants veterans to know that a recurrence of PTSD doesn't have to be the end. There is help, although, she believes there should be more.
"We train them in, we don't train them out, and that needs to change," she said.
Serrica has a similar sentiment.
"We can spend millions of dollars preparing them to go hurt people, but then when they come back, we can't heal them. It doesn't make sense," he said.
Investigators are looking at KATU's video as they continue to piece together exactly what happened and what may have motivated Cisneros. They say it's too early to confirm Cisneros planned to commit suicide by police. But they say it is a real possibility.