June 29, 2018 – The Portland State University Police have shot and killed an armed bystander during an altercation at the Cheerful Tortoise at 1:30 am Friday.
Early reports suggested that the man was trying to break up a fight involving one of his friends who had used a racial slur. PSU police were called to the scene.
During the scuffle, a gun fell from the man’s holster. When he went to retrieve it, he was shot. In the cellphone video below, police can be heard screaming “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” prior to firing.
Although not all details are available, the case illustrates the problems with concealed carry owners trying to play the role of mediators and do-gooders. It is extremely difficult for police to identify the intentions of armed civilians in a fighting situation.
According to data from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, people are arrested on an almost weekly basis for being felons in possession of firearms or illegal possession of weapons and police often have no way to tell who is authorized to carry and who is not until they ID someone.
In light of the many recent campus or school shootings around the country, it’s also likely that police would make it a priority to avoid any possible recurrence of such an event at Portland State.
None of this means that a law abiding citizen should lose his life over a dropped gun. The case has been tentatively assigned to a homicide detective so it appears that the Portland Police bureau is taking the investigation seriously. According to some witnesses, the fight was not serious enough to warrant the use of deadly force.
But it is also a reminder that if you decide to carry, whether open or concealed, you should think carefully before inserting yourself into potentially criminal altercations. We all hear about the concept of a good guy preventing a bad guy from doing horrible things because the good guy had a gun. But when the police arrive, there is often no way to know whether that guy with a gun is good or bad.