One block in Old Town has seen a week of violence

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:38 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Since last Friday, one block in Old Town has been the center of violence.

A public parking lot, bordered by Northwest 4th Avenue, Northwest 5th Avenue, Northwest Davis Street, and Northwest Couch Street, has had three injuries from gunfire and two homicides -- all between last Friday and this past Tuesday. Terry Breneman is a frequent visitor to Old Town. He said the violence sounds like a lot in a short period of time, but it’s normal from what he sees.

“It’s just terrible,” Breneman said. “It happens all the time.”

Moments before FOX 12 spoke with Breneman, he claims someone was assaulted in the same parking lot that has been the center of violent crimes.

“A guy chased another guy down right over there in the parking lot, caught him, beat the hell out of him, kicked and punched him,” Breneman said. “The guy was hollering and screaming.”

Starting Friday night, three people were shot on the corner of Northwest 5th Avenue and Couch Street. One person died and two others were transported to the hospital for their injuries. Early Sunday morning, Portland police said one person was shot in the chest but is expected to survive. Then Tuesday morning, a woman was stabbed to death on the corner of Northwest 5th Avenue and Davis Street.

“It’s just gone continuously downhill and as far as businesses coming back, you don’t see businesses coming back,” Breneman said. “I don’t think anybody is going to come back down here the way it is.”

FOX 12 reached out to the Old Town Community Association for comment but a spokesperson referred us to a press release about a new car-free plaza on Couch Street. Community association chair, Jessie Burke said this about the new plaza and the future of Old Town.

“Our vision for Old Town is to create a space that is safe, clean, and accessible. We believe that combining this public plaza space with thoughtful and diverse event programming is one of the many ways that we can start to come together again as a community. Old Town businesses are busier than ever, with hotel occupancy on the rise and restaurants open seven days a week, and the Couch Street Plaza is just one more amazing reason for people to come to visit.”

For Breneman, who also used to be unhoused in Old Town, he said the neighborhood has a long way to go before real change can be seen by the public.

“This area needs some help,” Breneman said. “The people in charge, the leaders in charge of all the money, come down here and you walk through the streets. You see for yourself what’s going on and then you figure out what to do.”