Date: April 7, 2018
Suspect: John Andrew Elifritz, 48
Involved Officers: Officer Richard Bailey, Officer Justin Damerville, Officer Kameron Fender, Officer Alexandru Martiniuc, Officer Bradley Nutting, Officer Chad Phifer, Officer Andrew Polas; and Multnomah County Sherriff's Deputy Aaron Sieczkowski
On Saturday, April 7, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., Central Precinct, Transit Division, and Gang Enforcement Team officers responded to the report of a crashed stolen vehicle at Southeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Southeast Stark Street.
When officers arrived in the area they searched for the suspect that fled the scene of the crash. During the search, officers located the suspect inside the Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter, located at 526 Southeast Grand Avenue. As officers contacted the adult male suspect, shots were fired. Officers immediately requested emergency medical personnel respond to the scene. Once on scene, emergency medical responders determined the suspect was deceased.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner has confirmed the identity of the deceased suspect as 48-year-old John Andrew Elifritz. Elifritz died of gunshot wounds. Toxicology results are pending.
There were seven Portland Police Officers and one Multnomah County Sheriff Deputy involved in the shooting. There were also 12 witness Portland Police Officers and community members who were interviewed by investigators.
Investigators learned the timeline of events on the day of the shooting. Based on information gathered at this time in the investigation, it is believed the suspect was involved in the following incidents.
On April 7, 2018, at approximately 2:25 p.m., a man who identified himself as Elifritz called 9-1-1 and reported his family had been murdered and gave a location in the 4400 Block of Southeast 79th Avenue. Officers responded to the location, which was a duplex under construction. The contractor at the location said a man (described as Elifritz) had been outside earlier and appeared to be acting in a bizarre manner. No one was found inside the duplex. Police later confirmed Elifritz’s family was safe.
Other officers located Elifritz at Southeast 86th Avenue and Southeast Holgate Boulevard and attempted to contact him, but he backed away from them, retrieved a knife from his pocket and held it up to his throat. Elifritz ran from officers and a decision was to de-escalate the situation by not pursuing him, but rather make a referral to the Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit for follow-up.
As officers were debriefing the incident, a community member approached them and said a man was waving a knife and had just attempted to carjack him. The victim did not want to report the crime, but wanted the police to be aware of the incident.
At 4:37 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a woman who reported her 2003 silver Honda CRV had just been stolen from her by force at Southeast 72nd Avenue and Southeast Foster Road (note: this location is a correction from a previous news release). Officers responded and learned a woman had struggled with Elifritz, who had jumped into the passenger seat and was wrestling for control of the vehicle. Meanwhile, the woman’s father was in a separate vehicle behind her at the stoplight. He got out of his vehicle and was able to disengage his daughter from the suspect. The suspect jumped in the driver’s seat of the car and drove away.
At 7:25 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a man who reported he and his family had been a victim of road rage in the area of North Columbia Boulevard and North Chautauqua Blvd. Officers responded and learned the suspect in this case was Elifritz in the stolen Honda CRV. The victim said the driver was tailgating him and driving next to him in the bike lane and pointed a black object at him, which he believed to be a gun.
At 7:29 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a man who said he saw Elifritz jump out of a moving vehicle on Southeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Southeast Stark Street. Police responded and the community member said the man appeared to be “drunk or high” and had left eastbound on Southeast Stark Street.
At 7:46 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a community member in the 600 Block of Southeast Grand Avenue, who said a man had been standing in the doorway of a store for the last five to 10 minutes, holding a knife in his hand. At 7:50 p.m., the call was updated that Elifritz was walking southbound on Southeast Grand Avenue.
At 7:55 p.m., it was reported a man had been standing in front of the 500 Block of Southeast Grand Avenue, holding a knife to another person’s throat.
At 7:58 p.m., officers responded to the Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter, where there were a number of community members present. The suspect was located inside the location. Officers deployed less lethal and then broadcast that shots were fired at 8:00 p.m.
On May 9, 2018, a Multnomah County Grand Jury returned a not true bill, finding the use of deadly force in this incident was justified.
As part of the use of force review process, the Bureau conducts an internal review of the entire incident and the case goes before the Police Review Board (PRB), which is composed of community members, Bureau members and representatives from the Independent Police Review Division.
The Portland Police Bureau's directive outlining the procedures followed after an officer-involved shooting may be found in Directive 1010.10.