PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As Portland struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic and nightly protests during 2020, shootings in Oregon’s largest city also more than doubled this year.
KOIN reports that Portland logged about 900 shootings, compared to 393 shootings in all of 2019. In December, so far, there have been seven homicides.
Most recently, Portland police identified 33-year-old Jaron Weeks as the city’s 53rd homicide victim this year — the highest number of homicides in Portland since a wave of gang violence in the early 1990s.
Weeks was killed Christmas morning in an apartment building in northeast Portland. A second shooting victim at the scene was hospitalized and the shooter remained at large by Monday afternoon.
In addition two people were hospitalized following multiple shootings in Portland on Saturday.
The unprecedented spike in violence in the city has presented challenges for officers.
“They know we are busy, so people are more emboldened to carry firearms and use them against each other and not only one or two shots, but multiple,” said Derek Carman, with the Portland Police Bureau. “There have been thousands of shots fired in the city this year and it’s unfortunate for the community.”
Similarly in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and even in smaller cities, 2020 has been deadly not only because of the pandemic, but because gun violence is spiking.
Authorities and some experts say there is no one clear-cut reason for the spike. They instead point to social and economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 virus, public sentiment toward police following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody and a historic shortage of jobs and resources in poorer communities as contributing factors.