Displaced tenants of burned SW Portland apartments say arson suspect ‘terrorized’ them for months

Court documents have revealed the arson suspect had a known criminal history prior to a fire that destroyed The May Apartments.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:56 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - A man who lived at the southwest Portland apartments that went up in flames was arrested Thursday and charged with arson.

According to court documents, 30-year-old Garrett Repp is facing 31 charges including arson, reckless endangering of another person, and criminal mischief. Court documents have also revealed Repp had a known criminal history prior to a fire that destroyed The May Apartments.

Repp appeared silent in a Multnomah County Court and pled not guilty to all of his charges.

RELATED: Arson arrest made in downtown Portland apartment fire that displaced dozens

According to court documents, Repp had several prior criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and trespassing charges spanning from December 2022 until just days before the fire.

Gabby Kielhorn says she lived in the apartment above Repp on the fourth floor, and says this tragedy wasn’t surprising.

“We saw this coming. Everybody saw this coming,” she said. “People who didn’t even know me saw this coming. This was predictable, preventable, and premeditated.”

Repp was ordered to leave the May Apartments on May 8 due to an eviction, but the Multnomah County Sherriff’s office says he was only served a notice several days prior and deputies never came to physically remove him.

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Portland Police arrested Repp on May 16, the same day of the fire, for allegedly breaking though his walls and into a neighboring vacant apartment a week earlier, on May 9. When asked about why there was a week between when Repp committed this crime and an arrest, a spokesperson for Portland Police said Repp could not be found after allegedly damaging the apartment, and officers did not follow up until a week later.

Kielhorn also  shared disturbing video with FOX 12 taken in April of what appears to be Repp threatening her and her partner with a makeshift sword. Kielhorn says this kind of behavior was frequent, and says one of her neighbors had a similar experience back in December shortly after Repp moved in and called police.

In December Repp was charged with disorderly conduct then released the next day. 

Kielhorn says Repp would also frequently pull the building’s fire alarm causing chaos.

“The Sunday before the fire he pulled all the fire alarms again,” Kielhorn said. “I stopped calling 911, there’s no help. The management wasn’t doing anything they just ignored us.”

SEE ALSO: Robber holds up Portland store at gunpoint for snacks

Kielhorn says despite all her efforts to warn authorities and the owners about Repp and his erratic behavior, she feels nothing was done, and the result was catastrophic.

“They failed us,” she said. “And to the management, I hope it was worth it.”

Repp’s next court date is set for May 31. He is current being held at the Multnomah County Justice Center without bail.

Link to verified GoFundMe for displaced tenants of The May Apartments