The tranquility of the hot summer afternoon was broken at 4:17 pm on Wednesday, July 19th, when shots rang out in front of the Eastport Plaza Military Recruiting Facility, located in the 4000 block of S.E. 82nd Avenue of the Roses.
'When I came out of the Eastport Post Office, I heard someone shouting, 'Drop it! Put it down'. Then, there were several shots,' eyewitness Bill Stapleton told us. 'I was quite a distance away, but I could see the smoke from gunshots, and what looked like a guy going down. Cops were shouting to people in the area, 'get down, get down'.'
The man who died on the sidewalk that afternoon was 37-year-old Jerry Goins. Police detectives said Goins was enlisted in the Navy, stationed in California. They added that Goins had reportedly traveled to Portland because he was emotional over his relationship with his girlfriend. At the time of his death, Goins was carrying a loaded pistol and binoculars.
9-1-1 call summons officer
On this sunny afternoon, a 19-year-old Portland Police Cadet was learning about police work, riding along in a patrol car driven by Portland Police Officer Richard Steinbronn.
A moment before 4:00 pm, the officer and cadet were dispatched to the recruiting facility. Someone called 9-1-1 and reported that an armed and suicidal man was coming to see his girlfriend.
Once inside the recruiter's office, Officer Steinbronn didn't find the man - but he did talk by phone with an individual, reported to be Goins, calling from a cell phone.
The officer and cadet got in their car, preparing to go on their next call. Then they spotted a man who matched Goins' description walking up to the recruiting facility. And, he was carrying a gun.
Autopsy confirms suicide
Witnesses told investigators the officer got back out of his car and repeatedly ordered Goins to drop the handgun. Ignoring the officer's orders, Goins turned and raised the weapon toward the officer and cadet. Officer Steinbronn then shot Goins four times, striking him in the mid-section.
Later, after an autopsy, Multnomah County Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. Clifford Nelson confirmed that none of the wounds from the officer's gun was immediately fatal. Instead, Nelson said, Goins had taken his own life with a gunshot wound to his head. Detectives said evidence indicated, and witnesses also attested, that the fatal shot was self-inflicted.
Eastport Plaza manager Ken Turner told THE BEE that he was called back to the shopping center by his security personnel. 'We express our condolences and sympathy to relatives, friends, and loved ones of Mr. Jerry Goins. And, we appreciate Chief Rosie Sizer and the officers of the police force for how they handled this tragic situation. The officers assured that the public was safe and out of harm's way.'
Anyone with further information in the case is asked to call Portland Police Detective Barry Renna at 503/823-0255, or Detective Mike Geiger at 503/823-0768.