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Officer's shooting a 'wakeup call' for quiet SW neighborhoods

Three face charges after chase, arrest ends crime spree


by: COURTESY OF THE PORTLAND POLICE BUREAU - Portland Police Officer Jeff Dorn and his K-9 partner Mick. Dorn was wounded and Mick was killed in an April 16 shootout with a burglary suspect. The crime spree that frightened Southwest Portland neighbors for several hours last week began with a plan to hold a man hostage and force him to pay ransom.

It ended with a wounded Portland police officer, a police dog shot dead and a gunman arrested during the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 16, in a Garden Home neighborhood.

The three men — 20-year-old Steven Young, 20-year-old Paul Alan Ropp and 25-year-old Jemaell Diamond Riley — face a handful of charges, including attempted robbery, attempted kidnapping and first-degree burglary. Ropp also faces attempted aggravated murder and assault of a law enforcement animal.

Young and Riley were arraigned Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court on charges of first-degree attempted kidnapping, first-degree conspiracy to commit kidnapping, second-degree attempted robbery and first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery. Young is charged with one count of first-degree burglary and Riley is charged with two counts.

Ropp was arraigned Monday on charges of attempted aggravated murder, second-degree assault, assault of a law enforcement animal, first-degree aggravated animal abuse, possession of an explosive device, unlawful use of a weapon (a firearm), first-degree burglary and attempt to elude by vehicle.

Young is being held on $243,500 bail. Ropp's bail is $575,000. Riley's is $242,500.

Police officer Jeff Dorn, a 16-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau, is recovering from two gunshot wounds to his leg. Dorn was released last week from Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

Dorn's K-9 officer, Mick, was shot and died during the melee. His body was found under a hedge near where Ropp was arrested nearly four hours after the attempted burglary.

"We've had two officers shot in the past month protecting our community,” Portland Police Chief Mike Reese said last week. “(Wednesday's) incident is a reminder of how dangerous policing can be. I'm very grateful that Officer Dorn will recover from his injuries and saddened that we lost one of our K-9 partners."

"We are saddened by the death of Mick, but heartened that Officer Jeff Dorn is doing OK and is in good spirits," said Mayor Charlie Hales.

A ‘wakeup call’

This was the second time in as many months that an officer was shot in the line of duty in Southwest Portland — this month in Southwest Portland's Multnomah neighborhood, and last month in nearby Hillsdale. On the afternoon of March 12, John Romero, an eight-year Portland Police Bureau veteran assigned to the Youth Services Division, was shot during a confrontation with 49-year-old Kelly Vern Swoboda, a fugitive wanted for kidnapping and assaulting a Milwaukie woman in January. Swoboda was suspected of following children home from Wilson High School.

Romero is recovering from gunshot wounds to his hand and arm. Swoboda was killed in the confrontation.

“It’s not only the second time in a month that an officer’s been shot protecting the community, but the second time they’ve been shot in relatively the same area, which is unusual,” said Sgt. Peter Simpson, Portland Police Bureau public information officer. “People are correct to assume that Southwest Portland has a much lower incidence of crime than other parts of the city, and so these incidents may sort of shake some people’s feelings that this is the safest part of the city.

“It’s really tough to say there is a single reason. Each of these incidents is very and vastly different as most shootings involving officers getting injured are. There’s not any particular trend we’re seeing.”

Moses Ross, chairman of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association, says the recent shootings are “a wakeup call that no region, no community is safe from this type of criminal activity.”

“My heart goes out to that K-9 handler and the canine that got killed,” Ross says. “I think it’s just a good reminder for the community that the police department puts their lives on the line for us every single day, and we have to acknowledge and thank them.”

Ross says that because of the recent confrontations, the local neighborhood association has had a couple of inquiries about neighborhood emergency teams.

“It’s unfortunate that it takes a bad incident to heighten the awareness of the need for community organization,” he adds.

Stolen uniforms

The April 16 incident began at about 2 a.m., when a Central Precinct officer responded to an alarm at Blumenthal Uniform Co., located in the Barbur Plaza strip mall at 9047 S.W. Barbur Blvd., and requested backup. As other officers responded, they tried to stop a suspicious vehicle, a white Chevrolet Suburban, near the store. When the Suburban didn’t stop, a short pursuit began, ending about a mile from Blumenthal when the SUV crashed into a utility pole on Southwest Lobelia Street and Capitol Highway.

The SUV’s two passengers, Riley and Young, remained in the car and were surrounded by officers. The driver, Ropp, fled the damaged vehicle. Officer Dorn and his canine partner, Mick, and Central Precinct Officer Jason Worthington pursued Ropp on foot. Several shots were fired, hitting Dorn hit twice in his legs. Mick, a purebred German shepherd imported from Germany, was struck on his body.

Portland's Special Emergency Response Team took Ropp into custody in the 6900 block of Southwest Oleson Road shortly before 6 a.m. Officers searching the neighborhood found an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and seized it as evidence.

According to court records, sometime between March 1 and April 16, Young and Riley allegedly planned to hold a man named Dennis Johnson, threatening him with a deadly weapon and physical force to keep him from getting in their way. They also conspired to compel Johnson “to pay and deliver money and property as ransom,” according to court records.

Sometime on April 16, police say Young stole merchandise worth less than $100 from a local Fred Meyer store. He and Riley allegedly stole a vehicle intending to commit theft, according to police. The pair allegedly broke into the Blumenthal Uniform Co. Portland retail store, armed with “a burglar’s tool and a deadly weapon.”

The store’s owner, Mark Blumenthal, told KOIN 6 News that the burglars got access to a storage room with samples of body armor. The store sells uniforms, clothing and equipment to local law enforcement and public service professionals. It also sells body armor.

Blumenthal later said sample badges and non-operational pepper spray grenades were missing.

Not a piece of equipment

Mick's original name was Dusty vom Langgarten, but was changed to Mickey by Officer Dorn's family. His name was shortened to Mick for street work. The Police Bureau purchased Mick from Brett Titus through his Colorado company Tac-Dogs.

Mick was born Sept. 3, 2012. The dog passed his Oregon Police Canine Association Certification on March 5, which made him eligible to work the street. Nine days later, Mick made his first three captures in the same day on March 14.

Mick had five total captures before he was gunned down, including the capture of a burglary suspect for North Precinct officers on April 15.

Dorn’s fellow K-9 officer, Shawn Gore, a 21-year Police Bureau veteran, says that as far as he knew no other Portland police dog had ever been killed so soon after being certified.

Gore says Mick's death was hard to take. "It's not like a piece of equipment you come and check out from the armory,” he says. “He lives with us, he lives with your family."