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Gang violence in Portland closes in on dubious record

Gang violence in Portland is inching up to the most recent record set in 2012.

The Gang Enforcement Team formally adopted 111 cases for investigation as of Aug. 8, according to the most recent statistics released by the Portland Police Bureau. That’s just seven cases short of the 118 cases adopted three years ago, which was the highest number in more than a decade.

More suspected gang-related incidents have occurred since the cut-off date, including six in which eight people were injured:

• Three men were shot on the top of Rocky Butte in the early morning hours of Saturday, Aug. 15. The men, whose ages range from 17 to 20, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male.

• A man was shot during a child’s birthday party in Laurelhurst Park on Sunday, Aug. 16. The shooting happened around 4:51 p.m. when the park was crowded with neighborhood residents. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect is described as an African-American male.

• A man was shot in the area of North Charleston Avenue and Swenson Street last Wednesday evening. Police found the victim when he flagged them down for help in a car three miles away from the shooting scene. He was transported to an area hospital and is expected to survive. No specific suspect information is available.

• Someone in a car fired multiple shots at another car in the area of North Vancouver Avenue and Holman Street. The driver of the second car crashed into a tree, injuring a passenger. The suspect is described as an African-American male who fled in a white car.

• Police responded to Portland Adventist Medical Center on Sunday on the report of a gunshot victim in the emergency room who turned out to be a known gang associate apparently shot earlier in North or Northeast Portland. No suspect information was immediately released.

• On Monday a 20-year-old woman sitting in the King School PArk in Northeast Portland was shot in the hand in a drive-by shooting. The suspect vehicle is described as a light-colored, smaller SUV occupied by multiple African-American males.

A number of other shootings without apparent victims also have been reported since Aug. 8.

Police have responded to the increase by adding six detectives and a sergeant to the Gang Enforcement Team. The positions were reallocated from each of the three precincts’ Neighborhood Response Teams and Street Crimes Units.

Despite the increase, gang-related incidents are still below the record levels set in the 1990s.