Documents Show Police Building Detailed Case to Arrest Old Town Robber for Selling Fentanyl Pills

Police conducted a “spotting mission” near the “benzo benches” as part of an effort to address crime in the beleaguered neighborhood.

The MAX station benches along 5th Avenue in Old Town. (WW staff)

A man previously involved in a February gunfight in Portland’s Old Town is now in jail after being accused of selling fentanyl and meth one block away from where the shootings occurred.

Terrance Jacob, 41, had previously been charged with robbery after TriMet security cameras caught Jacob throwing a man to the ground and rifling through his pockets while another suspect, Julius Banks, held the victim at gunpoint. The Feb. 5 incident ended in a firefight after someone else pulled a gun and the victims fled. The police recovered 24 shell casings from the scene as residents of a nearby tent encampment ducked for cover.

Jacob was arrested later that month after being charged with DUII following a car wreck. He posted $5,500 bail in August. Then, last week, he was then ensnared in a drug sting.

Addressing violence and drug use downtown has become a priority for city leaders as tourists, businesses and residents have fled. Three high-end hotels face foreclosure. A homeless village a few blocks from the shooting closed down in June. Its director blamed “daily and nightly gunfire and gun activity.”

Police say neighbors call the open-air drug market along the block of Northwest 5th Avenue near Davis Street the “benzo benches,” after the wooden seating installed near the MAX station.

An employee at Ground Kontrol, a bar that opens out onto the station, lists other names he’s heard for the drug-ridden stretch of downtown: “tin foil brickyard” and “boulevard of broken dreams.”

An armed security guard stationed at an AIDS clinic around the corner says he witnesses two to three drug deals a day. While talking with a reporter, the security guard, Brandon Anderson, pointed out two men that he believed were consuming meth. “I wouldn’t live in downtown,” he says. “I got kids.”

On Sept. 8, police on a “spotting mission” saw Jacob sitting in a Jeep with no license plates on the “benzo bench” corner. Charging documents filed by prosecutors give an unusually detailed account of what happened next.

Portland Police Officer Daniel Trummer watched Jacob as he sat in the Jeep on the corner of Northwest 5th Avenue and Davis Street, according to a police report reviewed by prosecutors. Trummer recognized Jacob from the February shooting.

A woman jumped in the jeep and then quickly left the scene. She was found by another officer with four blue “M30 style” fentanyl pills, which she said she buys for $5 apiece. She denied having just bought them from Jacobs.

A man later approached Jacobs, who briefly returned to the Jeep before completing a “hand to hand” drug deal, according to the report. The man was stopped by police a short time later and showed officers an Altoids tin with three Xanax bars and two M30s, which he said he’d purchased for $32 from a man near “the benches.”

Trummer observed a third transaction, but the buyer couldn’t be tracked down.

Jacob was arrested shortly thereafter. Officers found methamphetamine, Xanax and 56 fentanyl pills and over $350 in cash “on his person,” according to the report.

Recent judicial decisions have made it harder for prosecutors in Oregon to hold drug dealers accountable, says deputy district attorney Eric Palmer. Now, prosecutors have to go much further to prove that delivery actually happened, he says.

“I haven’t seen an incomplete transfer that would meet the court’s new definition of delivery,” he says. Otherwise, it’s charged as “attempted” delivery, which can result in a much more lenient sentence or sometimes no prison time at all, prosecutors say.

Jacob has been in and out of custody several times in the past year. After the February shootings, a warrant was issued for his arrest and police posted a “dragnet flyer.” He was found later that month after approaching police with bloodshot eyes following a car accident. After police found a handgun and an open can of Four Loko in the car, DUII and possession of a handgun were added to his robbery charges.

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