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Barricaded man found dead inside Oswego Pointe apartment

Lake Oswego resident Gregory Zagel had refused to leave after being served with an official eviction notice on Tuesday


REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Oswego Pointe resident Gregory Zagel, who has faced eviction from his apartment since January, has refused to leave since an official notice was served on Tuesday. Gregory Zagel, the Lake Oswego man who had barricaded himself inside his Oswego Pointe apartment since Tuesday in an ongoing eviction dispute, was found dead of an apparent suicide inside the home Thursday evening, police said.

Officers from the Lake Oswego Police Department, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s SWAT team had surrounded Zagel’s apartment beginning at around 4:30 p.m. Thursday after officials lost contact with him Wednesday night.

LOPD Sgt. Tom Hamann told The Review that an arrest warrant had been issued for Zagel, who allegedly was armed and had fired a shot into the floor of his apartment on Tuesday.

SWAT team officers used explosives to break down Zagel’s door while urging him via loudspeaker to exit the apartment. The standoff continued for at least 90 minutes, with no audible shots fired and no apparent response from Zagel.

At approximately 6:15 p.m., SWAT officers were seen moving away from the apartment and LOPD officers began to place yellow crime-scene tape around the perimeter of the area. Shortly thereafter, Hamann confirmed to The Review that Zagel was dead and that the apparent cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Hamann said he could not confirm exactly when Zagel died, but told The Review on Friday that it appeared to be "several hours earlier," likely before the SWAT team arrived on the scene. Officials’ last contact with Zagel was at roughly 6 p.m. on Wednesday, but Hamann said police did receive reports that he had been seen as late as 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

On Friday morning, Hamann told The Review that the Clackamas County Medical Examiner's Office had taken Zagel's body from the scene to perform an autopsy, and that the apartment had been turned over to Oswego Pointe's management.

Ongoing dispute

Zagel, who filed a civil discrimination lawsuit against his landlords in June 2015, had lived at Oswego Pointe for more than 14 years. He told The Review late last year that representatives of the apartment complex initially posted a notice on his door on Oct. 8, 2015, stating that he was being evicted with no cause and needed to vacate by Dec. 8.

Zagel, who was 61, told The Review at the time that he believed the eviction was “blatant retaliation” for his lawsuit, which claimed religious and sexual discrimination.

At an eviction hearing in Clackamas County Court on Dec. 18, an attorney for Oswego Pointe offered to extend the deadline to Jan. 5 if Zagel would agree to move out. Zagel said he didn’t think he’d be able to leave that quickly, but he accepted the offer because he said the crush of the holidays made it impossible to find an attorney who would help him fight the case.

“Realistically,” he said at the time, “I probably need to leave and just get a fresh start somewhere else, but it’s hard to relocate when you have basically no money. This is the first time I’ve had to worry about a roof over my head. And to be honest, it’s tearing me up. I never thought I’d be in a position like this.”

But instead of leaving, Zagel had for the past several months been attempting to overturn his pending eviction. The situation apparently escalated Tuesday morning, however, when Oswego Pointe officials posted the final eviction notice.

'He got a gun'

Police were “dispatched to stage for a possible suicide” just after 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, according to official logs. The report added that “upon staging, (police) got reports that there was an armed subject walking around the complex.”

The man in question turned out to be Zagel, who called The Review from his apartment to say that he had barricaded himself inside.

A spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a sheriff's deputy was present when Oswego Pointe staff changed the locks on Zagel’s apartment, so it remains unclear how Zagel regained access. But at 2 p.m., several police officers could be seen standing outside the apartment and warning residents to avoid going near. Zagel was reportedly armed and suicidal, police said.

“He got a gun, he threatened to hurt himself and he barricaded himself inside,” LOPD Lt. Doug Treat told The Review at the time.

Police continued to maintain a presence outside the apartment until approximately 3:30 p.m., but then left the area. Hamann, who was present at the scene, told The Review that police considered the situation to be a mental health issue and did not believe Zagel posed a risk to anyone other than himself.

Treat added that officers did not want to run the risk of Zagel hurting himself if police tried to force their way into the apartment.

“We don’t go into houses with armed people unless we have to,” Treat told The Review. “We don’t create our own exigency by making entry.”

During the following 24 hours, Hamann said, the LOPD had frequent contact with Zagel via phone and tried to convince him to leave the apartment on his own, with assistance from the Clackamas County Behavioral Health Unit. Zagel initially agreed to leave on Wednesday evening.

"He would've gone to the hospital for an evaluation," Hamann told The Review on Friday, adding that Zagel was aware of that condition.

Sources told The Review that Zagel had promised to walk out of his apartment “in 10 minutes,” but Hamann says he never emerged. Officers waited for three hours outside the apartment, but were never able to re-establish contact.

Residents alerted

Meanwhile, Oswego Pointe staff closed the apartment complex’s primary resident services building, which is located near Zagel’s apartment and opposite a small parking lot. A notice on the door stated that the center would be closed April 20-21. A separate note was posted to inform residents about the situation, and several residents said a copy of the notice was also attached to their doors on Wednesday.

“Police responded to a weapon being discharged by a former resident who thereafter barricaded himself inside a unit,” the letter read in part. “Police ultimately left the premises without explanation, although the person continues to barricade himself inside the unit with one or more weapons and poses a continued threat to our community and employees.”

The letter concluded by directing residents to call the Lake Oswego Police Department to assist in “obtaining a response from the City and Police.”

On Friday, Hamann told The Review that police were not made aware of the contents of the letter until they obtained a copy from a resident, and he characterized the letter as "not accurate." He said police recieved several phone calls from residents after the letter was posted, but said the letter ultimately did not change the LOPD's approach to resolving the situation.

Hamann said that after LOPD officers were unable to re-establish contact with Zagel on Thursday, they called in the SWAT team from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to enter the apartment.

“There’s no governmental interest in us forcing a confrontation,” Hamann said, explaining why the LOPD waited until Thursday before attempting to physically remove Zagel. “Until now, we’ve been talking with him, but we lost communication.”

Contact Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 ext. 108 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..