PORTLAND NEEDS WILLAMETTE WEEK.
NOW WILLAMETTE WEEK NEEDS YOU.

The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Portland Police Say Reported Sniper Was Shooting Rats

While the incident resolved peacefully, the post offered a window into the mindset of a city that is increasingly unsettled.

Portland police say the subject of a 911 call reporting a possible sniper perched above Interstate 205 was actually a man using a pellet gun to keep rats out of his tent.

In a widely shared post on the social media site Nextdoor on Aug. 28, a Portland woman shared an account of seeing a man with a rifle along the I-205 bike trail in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Northeast Portland.

“As I exited from under the Halsey Street overpass, I saw a man 2 feet from me with rifle and scope aimed at the cars that were slowly moving on the freeway,” she wrote. “I saw him, he saw me. I pedaled faster and goosed my electric assist to get down the hill and around the bend so he couldn’t shoot me.”

The woman, whose name WW is withholding, wrote that she called 911. She said police arrived quickly and caught the suspect.

She also posted a picture of the man she saw, crouched behind a chain-link fence and staring down the scope of a rifle.

As the post spread across social media channels on Saturday, WW inquired with Portland police. Bureau spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen said officers detained a man with a long gun Friday afternoon at the location described in the post.

“It was a guy seen holding a rifle,” Allen told WW. “He was cooperative when challenged and was detained. Officers determined that it was a pellet rifle that he was using to shoot rats getting into his camp. No one was threatened. He allowed officers to take the rifle for safekeeping and was not charged with a crime.”

While the incident resolved peacefully, the post offered a window into the mindset of a city that is increasingly unsettled by fatal shootouts, and where encampments along highways and bike paths have become part of the landscape.

“This city is broken,” the woman wrote. “It is not safe anywhere.”