A suspected gang member opened fire on a group outside a high school, sending three young people to the hospital in what police said appeared to be a gang-related shooting.
The victims of the Friday shooting are students at Portland’s Rosemary Anderson High School or in affiliated job training programs, police Sgt. Pete Simpson said.
A 16-year-old girl was in critical condition, and two males– ages 17 and 20– were in fair condition, police said. A fourth person– a 17-year-old girl– was grazed by a bullet but not hospitalized.
Witnesses told police there may have been a dispute outside the school before the shooting occurred at a street corner. The assailant and two other people fled, and the wounded students went to the school for help, the spokesman said.
“Based on the investigation thus far, the shooting appears to be gang-related,” Simpson said Friday night in a statement. That gang link was stronger than police suggested earlier in the day.
Sierra Smith, a 17-year-old student, told The Oregonian newspaper she saw one of the male victims being helped by a teacher inside the school. “He was laying on the ground. He had blood coming out of his stomach,” she said. “It was scary.”
Rosemary Anderson High School serves at-risk students who were expelled or dropped out, or who are homeless or single parents.
According to the school’s website, 190 students annually are enrolled at the north Portland location. The school also has a second location in Gresham.
Gang violence in Portland isn’t a new phenomenon. Some of the violence occurs between rival gangs, but bystanders have also been hurt.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in addressing the gang problem, but we haven’t eradicated it,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Today’s really a sad reminder that it’s still with us.”