1/6/23 News Update


<<The Portland Fire Investigations Unit released surveillance photos of a man suspected of arson at a bank in Southeast Portland in late December.

Portland Fire and Rescue crews responded around 3:13 a.m. to a fire at Bank of America on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast 38th Avenue on Dec. 31, 2021. Firefighters reported seeing smoke from the building’s front door when they arrived. They located several hot spots inside the building, but the fire did not spread to the basement. A second alarm was called and additional crews were deployed to help put the fire out, which was extinguished about an hour later.

Portland police said the case is being investigated as arson.

Investigators released surveillance photos of the suspect on Jan. 5, less than a week after the fire. One of the photos shows the suspect wearing a gray or black hoodie with the word “Montana” on the front. The suspect is also shown wearing a tan colored face mask, and a blue hat with a gray rim. Another surveillance photo shows the suspect carrying a red and white Target plastic bag.

An anonymous person online submitted an email that was published in a blog on Jan. 1 claiming responsibility for the crime. The post says, in part:

I attack for revenge against capital for the hell it creates, to break the illusion of police control that usually protects it, and just because I can.

Bank of America funds the Atlanta Police Foundation and a thousand other projects of control. Earlier that day, the six friends in Atlanta charged with “domestic terrorism” were released from jail. May this fire bring them some warmth in winter.

The Portland Fire Investigations Unit said investigators are aware of the blog post and cannot verify the authenticity of it at this time.>>


<<A $25,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction related to this arson.>>



<<The shoplifting epidemic in Portland is happening in plain sight. KGW has documented people stealing armloads of products that security experts like Scott Castleman say are resold on the black market.

“In my career in loss prevention, I’ve never seen anything to the degree that we have today. The brazenness of the shoplifters. Going in, knowing that they won’t get caught, they don’t even try and conceal anything anymore,” said Castleman.

If you walk into the Safeway store at southwest 10th and Jefferson, you can see their new efforts to try and stop it: adding a dedicated, secured area within the store for what appears to be the most “lifted” items. You have to pay there before you can ever get close to the exit doors. Maybe that gives security officers a better chance to stop the theft.>>

Castleman has decades of experience in security and loss prevention. He is not convinced this type of strategy will make much difference. Especially if staff and security are not allowed to stop and detain people, effectively making “citizen’s arrests” as Oregon law allows.

“And I’m telling you, the more these people start getting felony convictions the more they’re going to stop shoplifting, because those involved in the criminal element talk to other people and they know who’s soft on crime and who is hard on crime,” said Castleman.

Near the Jefferson Street Safeway is a Plaid Pantry. This convenience store is one of a half dozen with security concerns that could end up closing them. The local convenience store chain is trying to avoid that, so in the past year management has installed walk-up windows similar to what is found at banks. Customers are not allowed in the stores at night.

“It’s not efficient, it’s not good customer service. But it’s just the only way, in certain stores, that we can control that situation,” said Plaid Pantry president and CEO Jonathan Polonsky.>>

<<“We really preach hard about de-escalation so it’s pretty demoralizing when someone comes in with a bag, waves at the associate, says “hi”, goes through the store, loads up their bag, walks out the door and says see you tomorrow, and they’re back the next day,” said Polonsky.

Back at the bigger grocery stores, like the Gateway Fred Meyer, we are getting used to seeing products locked behind plexiglass, where paying customers must wait for assistance to get to them.

This and the new separate shopping areas we are seeing now at Safeway, are the inconvenient reality. Castleman said apprehension, police response and prosecution is what’s worked in the past.

“And I worked at that 10th and Jefferson Safeway, I worked there in 1992 or 1993; we got hundreds of shoplifters out of there, hundreds. But very few would ever come back.”

For Polonsky it’s safety first, but he agrees there needs to be more consequences to turn the tide on shoplifting.

“We have a great relationship with law enforcement. I know everybody’s pressed right now, but we’ve got to do more to hold people accountable.”

A Portland Police Bureau spokesperson said they understand the frustration and feel it, too.  And that while their focus has been largely consumed by increased homicides, gun violence and major traffic crashes, police will address shoplifting when possible.

PPB Sgt. Kevin Allen wrote, “While our responses are sometimes delayed, we do respond to property crime calls and we do investigate them as time allows. When arrests are made we do work with our partners at the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office in their effort to prosecute those crimes. Those who commit crimes should know that they’re absolutely risking facing criminal charges.”>>



<<A panel of five Washington prosecutors tasked with an independent review of the January 2022 death of an off-duty Vancouver police officer who was unintentionally shot and killed by a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy, were unable to “reach a consensus” on whether the deputy acted in “good faith” when he opened fire.

Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy John Feller shot and killed Vancouver police officer Donald Sahota near the front door of Sahota’s home in Battle Ground, Washington on Jan. 29, 2022.

Deputies were pursuing a fleeing robbery suspect, Julio Cesar Segura, and had responded to Sahota’s home. The off-duty officer, armed with a gun, was struggling with Segura in his driveway, trying to stop him from entering his house. Segura stabbed Sahota three times, broke free, and ran into the home. Sahota was pursuing Segura, running towards the front door of his home, when Feller opened fire.

Feller said he thought he was shooting at Segura, whom he considered to be armed and dangerous. “I believed if that person got in that house, they’d kill them,” Feller said in an investigative interview. Feller didn’t realize he’d shot Sahota until after Segura exited the home and surrendered.

The disagreement between members of the panel was over whether it was necessary for Feller to use deadly force, even if he believed the man he was shooting at was the robbery suspect.

“A reasonable person might conclude that the risk of serious harm was greatly diminished because Officer Sahota would have been safely in his home, armed, and protecting his family,” the report said. “Deputy Feller then could have worked more deliberately to take Mr. Segura into custody. Likewise, the ‘imminent threat’ … would have no longer been in existence.”

The report, reflecting the differing opinions of the prosecutors, also said there is “evidence to support Officer Feller’s contention that an armed Segura entering the home would have been an imminent threat to the safety of those inside.”

The report states some members of the panel believed “Feller should have taken the time to verify the identity of his target.” If Feller had done so, Sahota would not have been killed. Other members believed “it was not unreasonable for [Feller] to believe lethal force was immediately necessary and the man at the front door was the robber.”

The prosecutors who made up the panel for the independent review were Pend Oreille County prosecutor Dolly Hunt, Lewis County prosecuting attorney Jonathan Meyer, Island County prosecuting attorney Greg Banks, Garfield County prosecuting attorney Matthew Newberg and Clallam County prosecuting attorney Mark Nichols. The report, authored by Meyer, was “reviewed, edited and approved” by all members of the committee.

The review is “not intended to guide any potential charging decision to be made by the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.” Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik said he plans to take up to two weeks to decide whether to file charges against Feller, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.>>


<<It’s not the first time Feller has been through this process.

Feller was among three Clark County deputies who fatally shot a drug-investigation suspect on Oct. 29, 2020, in Hazel Dell, an unincorporated community northwest of Vancouver. Kevin E. Peterson Jr., 21, of Camas died at the scene.

A similar review board of Washington state prosecutors concluded that Peterson’s shooting was “justified and lawful” because, they said, Peterson was armed, ignored commands and pointed a gun at the deputies.>>