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Shooter gets 20 years for paralyzing tattoo artist


A man who shot and paralyzed a man who was giving him a tattoo will spend 20 years in prison.

After a six-day trial ending last week, jurors found Russell Alan Clemo, 29, of outer Southeast Portland guilty of attempted murder, first-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Russell Clemo

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Jerry Hodson on Thursday, Jan. 31, sentenced the man to 220 months for the assault conviction and 60 months for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Twenty of the 60 months will be served after the assault sentence, creating a total of 240 months behind bars.

Clemo also must pay more than $34,000 in restitution to the Department of Human Services for the victim’s medical bills.

On Aug. 31, the victim — Jordan Peck, 24 — was giving Clemo a tattoo of a crown on the side of his neck in Peck’s apartment in the 100 block of Northeast 181st Avenue. Both men were using methamphetamine and heroin during the 16 hours Clemo was in the apartment.

The drugs are known to thin blood, causing Clemo’s tattoo to bleed too much for Peck to finish it, said Britni Locke, the mother of Peck’s 4-year-old daughter.

Angry that Peck wouldn’t finish the tattoo, Clemo shot Peck three times in the back with a .38-caliber revolver that police found at the scene. Another bullet grazing his arm.

The two were new acquaintances, and although Peck considered him a friend, he wasn’t sure what his first name was.

Gresham Detective Tim Snider contacted Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Burkeen, who served on the East Metro Gang Enforcement Team, and relayed the suspect description and his affiliation with a gang known for its white supremacist beliefs. Burkeen said he knew of a man named Russell Clemo who belonged to the same gang, and found a photo of the man to show the detective. Witnesses identified him as the shooter.

Police arrested Clemo at his home in the 13900 block of Southeast Mill Street two days after the shooting. He had an unfinished tattoo on the side of his neck.

One bullet grazed Peck’s arm and two grazed his back. But one — the one that’s still lodged in his back — paralyzed him from the waist down. He’ll never walk again.

During the sentencing hearing, Locke told the judge that their daughter is a forgotten victim of the shooting.

“She can no longer run around on the playground with her dad,” she said. “She can’t race him to the count of one-two-three. She can’t be walked down the aisle by her daddy.”

Just a few nights ago, the little girl told her mom, “It’s been a long time since daddy has walked. When is he going to walk again?”

Locke struggles to answer her daughter’s question in an honest, age-appropriate way.

Gently, she told her little girl that her daddy will probably never walk again.

“But it’s OK because we’ll love him either way,” Locke told the girl, who heartedly agreed.

Prosecutor Chris Ramras asked for a 23 year sentence and told the judge that Clemo didn’t express any remorse during the trial.

“It’s abundantly clear he doesn’t really feel sorry for what he’s done,” Ramras said. He then asked the judge to issue consecutive sentences instead of the usual concurrent ones, in which inmates serve multiple sentences at the same time.

Clemo’s sister, Sarah Clemo Strand, however asked for leniency.

“Twenty years is a life sentence for a man without a wife or children,” she said, adding the victim has a child and can have more. Since the shooting, both men also have stayed clean and sober. “Russell is not an intentionally cruel person. He believed his life was in danger.”

As for why Clemo left the victim bleeding in his apartment, never called the police and never told anyone about what happened — his sister said he was in shock.

Clemo wiped away his tears with his blue jail shirt.

“I am truly sorry,” he said.

For six and a half of the past 10 years, Clemo has been behind bars.. But since the shooting, he’s looked at himself and his shortcomings.

“I know I can be a productive member of society,” Clemo told the judge, asking for a chance to have a career and a family

Then a loud voice rang out from the gallery. It was Peck, a man ordinarily so soft-spoken one must lean in to hear him.

“I forgive you, Russell,” he said from his wheelchair, loud enough for the whole courtroom to hear.

Clemo placed his forehead in the palm of hand and cried. His family, sitting to Peck’s side, sobbed.