A Portland man killed two people in an Old Town apartment building while under the influence of meth, records say
A 45-year-old Portland man told police he shot two people on Sunday on the third floor of an apartment building in Old Town after hearing voices in his head telling him to shoot people under the influence of methamphetamine, as court documents show.
Michael S. VanDomelen pleaded not guilty to two first degree murder cases during a brief indictment in Multnomah County District Court Monday. He is being held in the Multnomah County Detention Center without bail.
Police did not identify the victims, but court documents show that a man and woman were found dead shortly after 6:25 a.m. in an apartment at 310 Northwest 6th Avenue of 70 in 1987.
A resident of the apartment building told police he went into the hallway after hearing gunshots on the third floor and saw a man and woman who were shot in an open apartment, according to an affidavit filed Monday. The witness said he heard the male victim making noises, but the man did not respond when looking for him, according to court documents.
The witness told police that he had met VanDomelen in the hallway and asked if he knew who shot the victims, as court documents show. VanDomelen responded by saying, “I did that,” according to court documents.
The witness told police that VanDomelen was carrying a gun and implied that he wanted to rescue the male victim from his misery, court documents show. The witness told police he heard another shot as he left the apartment, the affidavit said.
Security footage from the apartment hallway showed VanDomelen aiming a gun in the apartment where the two victims were found, court documents show. After an exchange with the other resident of the apartment, the footage shows VanDomelen pointing the gun back into the apartment according to an affidavit.
Police arrested VanDomelen at the scene and found a 9mm pistol in his pocket, according to an affidavit. Officials said VanDomelen admitted shooting two people in a patrol car, court documents show.
VanDomelen’s court-appointed attorney Jonathan Sarre declined to comment on Monday.
VanDomelen has not yet been convicted of violent crimes, but was convicted of heroin possession, a crime and a trespassing charge in 2008 according to court records.
He told investigators that he consumed amphetamines on a weekly basis, court records show. VanDomelen told investigators that he has not been diagnosed with any mental illness, but that court documents indicate that he is suffering from anxiety.
VanDomelen told police he had lived in the Portland subway station all his life and is currently staying at the Biltmore Hotel, the three-story brick building where the shooting took place, according to court documents. The building is operated as a one-person hotel by Central City Concern, with most residents receiving rent subsidies through Section 8, according to the organization’s website.
Police told Central City Concern that the shooting involved two local residents and a guest, said Juliana Lukasik, CCC’s senior director of public affairs. Lukasik declined to answer follow-up questions from The Oregonian / OregonLive on Monday afternoon, citing the ongoing police investigation.
The murders drove the city to a record 71 murders this year, according to an analysis by The Oregonian / OregonLive. It is the deadliest year since 1987, when Portland murders killed 70 people. The Oregonian / OregonLive recorded the dozen of murders leading up to the weekend in its latest project, Under the Gun.
Six shootings have now caused 14 deaths this year, an unusual number of multiple killings, police say. Sunday was the fifth double homicide. Four men died in a shooting in a house in southeast Portland in June.
“Portland wrote the worst kind of history this weekend,” City Commissioner Mingus Mapps said in a statement. He urged city council members, Multnomah District Commissioners, and District Attorney Mike Schmidt to “stand up for and support our police and all local law enforcement agencies in stopping the killings. Most importantly, I want public support for the new Focused Intervention Team and the Community Oversight Group. “
The Police Bureau is working on recruiting a new team of uniformed officers to identify and track heavy shooters – with a community group chosen to track the team’s performance. The office is having a hard time filling the positions. Some officials are concerned about community adoption, police officers said, but the team is expected to start late next month.
VanDomelen is expected to appear in court on November 2nd at 9:30 am
Kale Williams of The Oregonian / OregonLive contributed to this report.