Two bullets hit a Portland Parks and Recreation truck on Monday night as rangers were driving between city parks in Southeast Portland.
WW news partner KATU-TV reported that the rangers’ vehicle was struck by gunfire at about 9:12 pm on Sept. 13 at Southeast 72nd Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard.
Tim Collier, community relations manager for Portland Parks and Recreation, confirmed to WW that the rangers were unharmed. The rangers called 911 after the shooting.
East Precinct officers found 26 cartridge casings of different calibers at the site of the gunfire. Bullets had gone through the windshield of another passing car, narrowly missing the driver.
In April, Portland city commissioners gave Portland Parks and Recreation $1.4 million to expand its unarmed park ranger service into 24 new full-time positions as “goodwill ambassadors.” It was a compromise reached amid a rising number of shootings but a council loath to restore funding to the Portland Police Bureau. The rangers, who do not have weapons or bulletproof vests, are meant to deescalate situations.
In April, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty described the approach to WW. “The mayor asked me: ‘What are park rangers going to do if somebody starts shooting?’ I said, ‘They’re going to call 911.’ No way do we want park rangers intervening. If somebody pulls out their gun, they’d better call 911.”
Since then, gun violence in Portland has continued at an astonishing rate. The shooting Monday was the second in two days with a massive amount of gunfire: Before dawn on Sunday, police found more than 100 cartridge casings at Northeast 95th Avenue and Prescott Street.
The Police Bureau said “investigators will look into” whether rangers were targeted in the Monday shooting, although there is currently no evidence that suggests they were. No injuries were reported and no one has been arrested.
City Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who oversees the parks bureau, expressed relief that the rangers weren’t hurt. Rubio, who helped craft the goodwill ambassador plan, said she’s committed to a wide array of responses to gun violence in Portland neighborhoods.
“I continue to believe that public health must be the core of our community safety system and our response to gun violence,” she said in a statement. “That is why I supported investing in community-based organizations working to change the conditions that foster violence and de-escalate situations where gun violence may arise. That’s why I supported, and continue to support and advocate for, expanding Portland Street Response. I also continue to request more information from PPB about the bureau’s staffing and resource needs so that, as an elected representative, I can ensure we’re making smart, effective investments to keep communities safe.”