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Portland’s gun violence affect students close to school

Christian Pedersen
Friends, loved ones, and community members set up a memorial for Erika Evans on the basketball court where the shooting occurred.

Trigger warning: This article includes mentions of gun violence and death. 

Portland is seeing a startling gun violence trend. From 2019 to 2021, shooting incidents where a firearm was discharged and reported to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) have risen from 413 incidents in 2019 to 1,314 incidents in 2021. In 2022, Portland has already had 893 shooting incidents between January to August, which is a 5.1% increase from last year and a 223.6% increase from 2019. The city is currently on track to have another record-breaking year. 

Gun violence incidents are getting closer to Lincoln. According to the PPB, “From August 2021 through August 2022 there were 37 reported shooting incidents in the Downtown neighborhood.” Lincoln High School is located downtown, but these shootings aren’t just happening near the Lincoln campus.

According to the emergency messaging system FlashAlert, on Sept. 23, at 11:12 p.m., Portland Police responded to a call of shots fired at Wallace Park located next to Chapman Elementary on NW Raleigh Street. Police arrived and found 26-year-old Erika Evans shot and killed. Her death was ruled a homicide. As of Oct. 25, no arrests have been made.

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Wallace Park is frequented by Lincoln students and their families. Several Lincoln students were at the park the night of Sept. 23. 

Senior Ava Delaney was sitting in her car with her friends near the park. Since that night, she has felt less safe in places where she has felt comfortable in her whole life.

“Chapman Elementary has always been a safe spot to go as I’ve grown up in Portland,” said Delaney. “It’s been a place to hang out with friends, watch the sunset and have picnics. I now wonder if it’s somewhere I should be going.”

Delaney is concerned about what these events mean for the neighborhood and the city as a whole.

“I felt so devastated knowing not only that there was a life lost that night, but that surrounding violence had swallowed a cherished park in Portland,” said Delaney.

Jake Pinkstaff was also with friends at Wallace Park on the evening of Sept. 23. Pinkstaff graduated from Lincoln last year and feels similarly to Delaney. The neighborhood used to feel safe to him, but since the shooting that fact has changed.

“It is devastating to know that if I walked up to the situation a few seconds prior, it could’ve easily been me. This shouldn’t be the reality of things. I shouldn’t have to be questioned by police at the crime scene,” said Pinkstaff.

Gun violence occurring near PPS schools isn’t exclusive to downtown and the northwest area. According to FlashAlert, on Oct. 18 two students were shot and injured during dismissal at Jefferson High School in North Portland. According to ABC News, two masked teens fired 15 rounds into the area before fleeing the scene in a car and crashing on North Alberta street. Both suspects fled the scene of the crime.

Delaney has noticed negative changes to Portland’s safety. 

“We live in a beautiful city, but every year I watch the amount of it that is safe to my experience shrink. I feel as if I constantly have my guard up, locking my doors as soon as I get in my car,” said Delaney.

This story was originally published on The Cardinal Times on October 25, 2022.