SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The new head of the FBI’s field office in Portland says the city's soaring rate of gun-related violence and deaths is a public safety crisis that the FBI intends to try to stem with local law enforcement.
In a wide-ranging news conference Monday, Oregon Special Agent in Charge Kieran Ramsey also said any residents of Oregon who may have participated in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol will be held accountable if they’re caught.
Ramsey said FBI practice precludes him from speaking about whether anyone from Oregon might be under investigation for the riot. But he pointed out that FBI Director Christopher Wray has said 55 of the FBI’s 56 field offices have ongoing investigations related to the Capitol incursion.
The FBI has made about 270 arrests, with 30 more by other agencies, and more arrests are forthcoming, Ramsey said.
“And if we see those individuals that are residents here of Oregon and traveled there, they’ll be held accountable,” Ramsey said.
Stemming gun violence in Portland, which like many other cities sharply increased last year, is a priority for Ramsey.
“We’ve seen, I think, somewhere in the line of 200 shootings in nine weeks, there’s some dozen or more people killed since the first of the year, with some other 50-plus injuries,” Ramsey said.
Last year in Portland, there were nearly 2 1/2 times more shootings — 900 — than in 2019. So far this year, there have been 17 homicides, compared to one homicide during the same period in 2020.
Ramsey said he’s been talking with the Portland Police Bureau, the offices of the mayor and the U.S. Attorney, the suburban Gresham Police Department and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to see where the FBI can help stem the shootings. The FBI might be able to help with money with and personnel or technological resources, he said.
“It is a public safety crisis and we’ve got to start attacking this aggressively,” he told reporters.