(PORTLAND, Ore.) — A deadly shooting in Portland, Oregon, between cops and a knife-wielding carjacker was captured on video by a terrified witness.
The footage showed the man, who relatives later identified as 48-year-old John “John-John” Elifritz, ducking into a shelter in southeast Portland at around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
Residents of the Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter frantically fanned out of the armed stranger’s way, as flickering blue police lights appeared to be pulsing from the front glass doors.
A man in the room then shouted, “Get out from behind him!”
That’s when the frame captured a bald man lurking in the recesses of the room in front of a massive cross, wearing a back hooded jacket.
For a few moments, the man appeared to be ducking and sidestepping.
A person, who may have been the one recording, then said “Oh my god!” and “Please God!”
Dogs were barking loudly as more than a dozen policeman, some with rifles drawn, slowly entered the main room.
An enclosure in the middle of the room with a tall, white railing appeared to be separating the cops and the man.
Numerous police officers appear to point their flashlights at the man as they announced, “Drop the knife!”
The command was repeated several times.
After seconds passed and the man failed to surrender, several shots were fired.
Again, a man who may have been recording the footage yelled, “Oh my God!”
In subsequent statements from the Portland Police Department, multiple units were said to have responded to a pileup involving a stolen vehicle at the intersection of Southeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Southeast Stark Street.
When responding officers attempted to surround the driver, police said the suspect “fled the scene of the crash.”
The same car was involved in an incident three hours earlier when it “had reportedly been taken by force” on Southeast Knight Street, the police statement added.
When the suspect was tracked into the homeless shelter where police “contacted” the man they believe stole and crashed the vehicle, then fled the scene, the statement said that was when “shots were fired.”
Emergency medical professionals were called to the scene, but were unable to resuscitate the man, who police have not officially named pending the results of an autopsy.
Protesters have been flocking to the shelter, calling the fatal shooting unjustified.
Some carried signs in front of the homeless shelter blaming the police for what they say were overly aggressive tactics.
The signs had charged messages like: “Murder is not protection,” “This is not a local problem!” and “Cops Stay out of my Sanctuary!”
Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw asked the public to wait for the results of the department’s investigation before drawing conclusions.
“The Portland Police Bureau values human life and accepts the authority to use lethal force with great reverence,” Outlaw said in a statement. “I am aware a video was taken of this incident by a community member and that video was posted to the internet. Please be reminded that deadly force investigations are extremely complex and take time. The Police Bureau is committed to transparency and will ensure the entire investigation is released in a timely manner that does not impact the integrity of the investigation.”
While Portland Police Department initially was going to release the names of the cops who fired on Elifritz on Sunday — in keeping with their policy to do so in 24 hours — they have since delayed the release citing “credible threats” lodged against the officers, Portland Police Department spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley confirmed to ABC News on Monday.
In the meantime, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also pleaded with people to not rush to any judgment regarding the fatal incident with police.
“The loss of a life is always tragic,” he wrote in the statement. “My priority is to discover the facts and circumstances regarding this incident. Already, there are those who want to immediately define what happened. It would be highly irresponsible for me to participate in speculation at this time. I urge us all to allow investigators to do their work, to uncover the facts, and to report on their findings.”
Morgan Pickering, who allegedly posted the video footage, told ABC station KATU-TV that Elifritz was stabbing himself in the neck with a pocket knife and that he remained a threat to officers.
He suggested police were in the right when they took lethal force to neutralize him.
“Police protected us, had to shoot the man,” he said.
David Rogers, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Oregon issued a rebuke after seeing the video footage of what took place inside the shelter on Saturday.
“The video shows a disturbing and chaotic scene of people in the shelter running and yelling in fear, while others looked on, including one person in a wheelchair, as Portland Police officers enter the building with guns drawn,” Rogers stated. “In less than a minute, officers shoot and kill the man, while members of an already traumatized population, Portland’s homeless community, watch in horror. Was there any attempt to de-escalate the situation before officers open fire inside the homeless shelter full of innocent bystanders? If not, why not?”
On Sunday a makeshift memorial was held outside Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter to honor Elifritz.
Several friends paid their respects, including his childhood friend Victoria Nevarez.
“He was an upstanding individual with a family, daughter, grandchildren,” Nevarez told KATU-TV. “John-John would give you the shirt off his back. He would’ve done anything in the world for anybody.
“He would take his last $5 and give it to anybody that needed it.”
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Source:: National News