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After Indictment of Shopping Plaza Guard for Murder, Prosecutors and Lawmakers Call for Security Reforms

The 2020 shooting highlights the risks of increasingly common private security services.

Multnomah County prosecutors on Thursday announced that a grand jury had indicted a security guard on charges of second-degree murder for fatally shooting a man sitting in his car in a North Portland shopping center parking lot.

Logan Gimbel, 28, was working for Cornerstone Security Group when he shot and killed Freddy Nelson Jr. on May 29. TMT Development hired the security firm to patrol the area around a BottleDrop center, saying the company needed to step in to prevent drug dealing and fights.

WW first reported the addition of armed guards by the BottleDrop’s landlord in April 2020. Gimbel killed Nelson just over a year later. In July, Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Rebecca Ellis wrote a detailed investigation of the shooting, revealing that Gimbel wasn’t licensed to carry a gun.

Vanessa Sturgeon, CEO of TMT Development, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Delta Park shooting is the most high-profile incident in a trend of companies hiring private security firms to handle crowd management and homeless camping. Many of the businesses hiring those guards argue that police are overwhelmed and unresponsive amid a homicide wave and growing homeless camps.

Related: Old Town clubs reopen amid gunfire—and ex-soldiers stationed in the street.

In announcing the indictment of Gimbel, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt pledged to work with lawmakers to review the rules governing private security firms.

“My thoughts are with Freddy Nelson’s family in the wake of this tragedy,” Schmidt said in a statement. “We will work to prevent anything like this from happening again. While this incident produced tragic results, it is not the only example, locally or nationally.”

State Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, joined Schmidt in a call for reform. “True justice would be Mr. Nelson still being here with us today,” Bynum said. “I am saddened that Oregon lost a father and a husband through this tragedy. The authority to protect and serve people is derived from the community, and thus all policing conduct must be held to the highest standard. When that standard is not met, our community deserves to see course corrections through accountability mechanisms and through policy.”