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Trio of gun incidents startles area

Police say cases are unrelated
by: walt trandum, Bullet holes can be seen in Walt Trandum's campaign sign for Barack Obama. The sign was shot and thrown in a nearby tree off Rude Road.

The alleged illegal use of firearms played a central role in at least three recent incidents in the Sandy area, two of which took place during the past week.

The Sandy Police Department and the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office received reports of a possible firearms threat at Sandy Grade School, an alleged encounter with a gun after a road rage incident and neighborhood gunshots that put bullet holes in a political sign.

'It is strange' all this is happening at the same time, Sandy Police Sgt. David Lundervold said, 'but that's just police work. It comes in droves. There's no way to predict it.'

Lundervold said that there's no reason to believe the three incidents are connected.

'Traditionally in this area and in the outlying areas of Clackamas County, you hav ea lot of people with guns,' Lundervold said. 'The more percentage-wise you increase the number of people who have guns, the more you increase the number of people who are doing stupid things with them.'

Reported gun sighting leads to lockdown

Three Oregon Trail schools were put on lockdown - a safety measure that keeps all students indoors during an emergency - after a student reportedly saw a gun outside Sandy Grade School.

Just before 2 p.m., a fifth grade student - whose name was not released - was alone in his classroom when he looked out the window and saw a man he recognized driving up to the school.

The student said the car stopped outside the classroom, and the person inside stuck something outside the window he thought resembled a shiny revolver.

'What the kid saw was pointed in the direction of the school, but was not pointed directly at any one person,' Sandy Police Chief Harold Skelton said.

Convinced the man had a gun, 'he dropped to the floor,' Skelton said. 'It scared him so bad.'

After he was sure the car left, the student told found his teacher and told her what had happened.

The school district reacted quickly, contacting police and putting Sandy Grade School on lockdown. Sandy High School and Cedar Ridge Middle School also initiated lockdown procedures, due to their proximity to Sandy Grade.

'That was the school district's decision, which I support,' Skelton said.

Based on information given by the student, Sandy police officers spotted the alleged gun wielder's vehicle leaving a local pizza restaurant. They stopped the car at the Sandy Marketplace shopping center, where they detained a 30-year-old Sandy resident.

Authorities did not find a gun in the car or on the subject, but they did find a shiny flashlight.

'In the sunlight from a distance, at quick glance, the student may have thought it looked like a gun, I don't know,' Skelton said. 'But there was also a 20 minute delay. The guy could have feasibly gotten rid of the gun.'

No arrests were made, but the incident is still under investigation.

Lundervold said the student is familiar with the subject.

'The kid is afraid of him,' he said. 'We don't know if it was a fluke that he ended up at the grade school pointing this object, or if he went there to see the kid … but what are the odds? If he went out to seek out this kid, he picked the right classroom.'

Officers are taking the student at his word.

'He's a good student,' Skelton said, 'not prone to be making up stories. There's nothing to indicate he was imagining things.'

And even if what he saw wasn't a gun, there's still potential that someone may face menacing charges.

'If you look at the wording in the (state) statute, to menace someone … there doesn't actually have to be a weapon there,' Lundervold said. 'The statute says (menacing) is causing an imminent fear of serious physical injury or death.'

Lundervold said that the student was genuinely afraid of whatever he saw, and it will be up to the district attorney's office to determine whether what occurred was menacing or not.

Officers say there is no reason to believe there are any specific threats against the school, nor that the school is in danger.

'They are going to have a heightened sense of security around there I'm sure for a few weeks,' investigating officer Jason Coates said.

After interviewing the 30-year-old subject a second time, the Sandy Police Department will forward its report to the Clackamas County District Attorney's office, which will decide whether or not to prosecute the case.

'I think the kid did the right thing,' Skelton said. 'He saw what he perceived as a threat and notified an adult. He did everything he should have.'

As far as the school's lockdown procedures went, Coates said they overall went fairly well. The police department plans to have a meeting with the school district to debrief regarding the incident.

'They were definitely doing a good job of keeping people safe,' Coates said of the school district.

Gun owners for Hillary (or McCain)?

Rude Road resident Walt Trandum and his neighbors were rattled by the sound of nearby gunfire early Friday morning, April 25.

'We heard a car speed off and everyone seemed fine, so we just went back to bed,' Trandum said. Over the weekend, a neighbor mentioned to him that she too had heard the sound of shots ringing out just after midnight.

On Sunday afternoon, Trandum discovered what at least one of the targets of the gunfire was: his Obama for President sign.

'I noticed someone had taken the Obama for President sign I had posted on my property, and had thrown it up into some trees,' Trandum said. 'When I went out there and got it down, I noticed the sign had five bullet holes in it.'

None of his other signs, which advertised state and local candidates, was touched.

Trandum told the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office about the vandalism, and they took a report over the phone. For now, that's about all they can do.

'If we don't have a suspect, we can't do anything,' said sheriff's office spokesman Jim Strovink. 'It's like all the people who shoot up road signs.'

Strovink said discharging a weapon in such a fashion warrants charges of reckless endangerment and a potential list of other serious charges, if an individual is caught.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call the sheriff's office tip line at 503-723-4949.

'I did have some John Kerry signs vandalized a couple of different times in 2004, but there was never any guns involved,' Trandum said.

Trandum plans to repost the Obama sign.

Road rager allegedly brandishes weapon

At about 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, a 69-year-old Sandy man reported having a firearm pointed at him following a road rage incident involving his wife on Dubarko Road.

Little information about the actual event has been released due to the pending investigation, but the victims were able to describe the suspect as an olive-complected, white male in his early to mid-30s, with close cropped, tightly curled hair and very straight, white teeth.

Lundervold said the case is still under investigation. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call 503-668-5566 (reference case No. 08-396).