Shooting outside alternate high school injures four, appears gang related
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Four students were shot outside Rosemary Anderson High School in North Portland Friday afternoon. One of them was critically wounded. Police were still looking for the shooter.
The shooting appears to be gang related, police said.
Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said 16-year-old Taylor Michelle Zimmers was in critical condition at a hospital. David Joshua Jackson-Liday, 20, and Labraye Quavon Franklin, 17, were in fair condition after being treated at a hospital. Olyvia Lynn Batson, 17, suffered a "grazing wound" to her foot and was treated at the scene.
All four victims were students at the school, said Joe McFerrin, president of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, which runs Rosemary.
The shooting happened outside the school shortly after noon Friday on North Borthwick Avenue near Killingsworth Court. Simpson said the victims ran into the school.
He said the shooting was never an "active shooter situation" and information indicated the shooting was gang related.
The Police Bureau's gang unit was deployed in the investigation.
Police gang investigators "feel comfortable saying this is a gang-related shooting based on some of the people involved," Simpson said in an interview. He declined to say which victims might be related to gangs.
The shooter, described by witnesses, is an African American male in his late teens or early 20s. He and two other African American males of the same age range, fled the scene on foot north on Borthwick Avenue, Simpson said.
He said witnesses said there was some sort of dispute that may have led up to the shooting, but he did not know whether any of the four victims were involved in it. He said the investigation is ongoing.
"I think for everybody associated with the schools, with the neighborhood, this is incredibly traumatic," Simpson said. "There's a lot of tight-knit families and people who live in this neighborhood associated with these schools. To have something like this happen is very difficult to understand."
Rosemary, Jefferson High School and Portland Community College were placed into lockdown. Those lockdowns were later lifted.
Student says her cousin was shot
Queeni Hillman, 17, and her brother are students at Rosemary. Hillman said her cousin, also a student, was shot. She said she heard gunshots while she and her brother were in the cafeteria during lunch. Then she saw her cousin stumble into the school hurt and bleeding.
"I saw him stumbling in the school holding his stomach," the junior said. "He said my brother's name, and he fell on the ground holding his stomach."
She said there was a lot of blood and her cousin was taken into the girls' bathroom for treatment. Later, her cousin was loaded onto an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
School has seen its share of gang activity
Rosemary Anderson High School is a nonprofit alternative school established in 1983 for at-risk students. According to the school, it enrolls about 190 students.
The students at the school have had disciplinary problems, transferred to multiple schools or they've been expelled or have dropped out of public high school.
In documentation it sent to the state, the school said, "100% of our African American student body are either gang involved or impacted."
The school has dealt with violence before.
In 2010, Rosemary Anderson's first ever prom king was killed in a shooting 12 days after graduating.
The school is not overseen by Portland Public Schools.
KATU's On Your Side Investigators spoke with John Canda, who's a longtime gang outreach worker. He's helped kids at Rosemary Anderson and throughout the city. He said gang violence has been increasing in recent years, and that it's spreading.
"There was a time that we could see that much of the gang-related activity, if in fact this is gang-related, was centralized in North and Northeast Portland," Canda said. "We can no longer say that."
"It's fluctuated," said Simpson, regarding gang activity in the city. "In the last couple of years, we've seen it go really high. Interestingly, it's been fairly quiet the past few months."
Simpson agrees that gang activity is spreading.
"Our gang violence used to be centered in this neighborhood 20 to 25 years ago, even 15 to 10 years ago," Simpson said. "It's really not anymore. It's moved out
Spike in gang violence?
Gang violence in Portland isn't a new phenomenon. Some of the violence occurs between rival gangs, but bystanders have also been hurt.
"We've made a lot of progress in addressing the gang problem, but we haven't eradicated it," Mayor Charlie Hales said after the shooting Friday. "Today's really a sad reminder that it's still with us."
Portland police have said they saw a spike in gang crime this summer and have complained they don't have adequate resources to address the problem. Recent violence includes a man killed in a drive-by-shooting in June and another man killed in a separate shooting. A 5-year-old boy also was shot in the leg while playing at an apartment complex.
A Multnomah County report on gang activity released in June said crime in the county that includes Portland actually decreased from 2005 to 2012. As inner-city Portland gentrifies, the report said, criminal activity is shifting from northern neighborhoods to areas farther east, including the city of Gresham.
The north Portland neighborhood where the shooting occurred exemplifies the trend. Before Friday, the place once known for gangs had not had a shooting with injuries in nearly four years.
The report identified at least 133 active gangs in the county.
KATU reporters Kerry Tomlinson and On Your Side Investigator Joe Douglass contributed. The Associated Press also contributed.
Watch: 1 p.m. media briefing by Sgt. Pete Simpson: