Police hold names of officers involved in deadly shooting, release timeline of events

Friends and family placed this picture of John Andrew Elifritz outside Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter on Southeast Grand Avenue. Police shot and killed Elifritz inside the building Saturday night. (Photo: Catherine Van/KATU News)

Citing policy, the Portland Police Bureau said Monday that it is not immediately releasing the names of the officers involved in Saturday’s deadly shooting at a homeless shelter because threats are being made to their safety.

The bureau also confirmed that the man officers shot at the Cityteam Ministries on Southeast Grand Avenue was 48-year-old John Andrew Elifritz.

Police said there were a total of seven Portland police officers and one Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy involved in the shooting.

Police said they are conducting an investigation into the threats to assess them before releasing the names of the law enforcement officers involved in the shooting.

Police said the officers who were involved in the shooting are scheduled for their administrative interviews today. The deputy is scheduled to be interviewed Tuesday.

In the hours and minutes before Elifritz ended up at the shelter, police said 911 calls were made reporting that he had carjacked a woman, was involved in a road rage incident, jumped out of his car while it was still moving and held a knife to a person's throat while near the shelter.

He then ran into the shelter where witnesses said he had a knife and was threatening to hurt himself and others. Police entered the building, used less-lethal ammunition, and then shot and killed him.

Many members of the community became enraged after seeing a video of the shooting taken inside the shelter. Some called the shooting a murder or police brutality. The executive director of ACLU of Oregon issued a statement raising questions about the shooting.

Police said they can’t comment on the video because it’s part of the investigation. Mayor Ted Wheeler said his priority is to discover facts.

According to the police bureau, there were 12 Portland police officers who witnessed the shooting. Police said they have interviewed them.

Police also released an extensive timeline they said outlines the incidents Elifritz was involved in before being shot by police. Below is that timeline.

• On April 7, 2018, at approximately 2:25 p.m., a man who identified himself as Elifritz called 9-1-1 and reported his family had been murdered and gave a location in the 4400 Block of Southeast 79th Avenue. Officers responded to the location, which was a duplex under construction. The contractor at the location said a man (described as Elifritz) had been outside earlier and appeared to be acting in a bizarre manner. No one was found inside the duplex. Police later confirmed Elifritz’s family was safe.

• Other officers located Elifritz at Southeast 86th Avenue and Southeast Holgate Boulevard and attempted to contact him, but he backed away from them, retrieved a knife from his pocket and held it up to his throat. Elifritz ran from officers and a decision was to de-escalate the situation by not pursuing him, but rather make a referral to the Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit for follow-up.

• As officers were debriefing the incident, a community member approached them and said a man was waving a knife and had just attempted to carjack him. The victim did not want to report the crime, but wanted the police to be aware of the incident.

• At 4:37 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a woman who reported her 2003 silver Honda CRV had just been stolen from her by force at Southeast 72nd Avenue and Southeast Foster Road (note: this location is a correction from a previous news release). Officers responded and learned a woman had struggled with Elifritz, who had jumped into the passenger seat and was wrestling for control of the vehicle. Meanwhile, the woman’s father was in a separate vehicle behind her at the stoplight. He got out of his vehicle and was able to disengage his daughter from the suspect. The suspect jumped in the driver’s seat of the car and drove away.

• At 7:25 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a man who reported he and his family had been a victim of road rage in the area of North Columbia Boulevard and North Chautauqua Blvd. Officers responded and learned the suspect in this case was Elifritz in the stolen Honda CRV. The victim said the driver was tailgating him and driving next to him in the bike lane and pointed a black object at him, which he believed to be a gun.

• At 7:29 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a man who said he saw Elifritz jump out of a moving vehicle on Southeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Southeast Stark Street. Police responded and the community member said the man appeared to be “drunk or high” and had left eastbound on Southeast Stark Street.

• At 7:46 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a community member in the 600 Block of Southeast Grand Avenue, who said a man had been standing in the doorway of a store for the last five to 10 minutes, holding a knife in his hand. At 7:50 p.m., the call was updated that Elifritz was walking southbound on Southeast Grand Avenue.

• At 7:55 p.m., it was reported a man had been standing in front of the 500 Block of Southeast Grand Avenue, holding a knife to another person’s throat.

• At 7:58 p.m., officers responded to the Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter, where there were a number of community members present. The suspect was located inside the location. Officers deployed less lethal and then broadcast that shots were fired at 8:00 p.m.

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