PORTLAND – Police arrested six people at gunpoint Friday after a six-hour standoff at the Riverton Apartments, a public housing complex off outer Forest Avenue.

Dozens of officers, including the city’s Special Reaction Team, were deployed throughout the complex because of information that suspects inside 2 Pinewood Road, a two-story end unit overlooking Riverside Drive, might have guns.

Officers evacuated nearby apartments and refused to let residents into that building or those near it.

Nobody was injured in the incident, which began with an initial police report at 7 a.m. and didn’t end until almost 4 p.m., when police allowed people back into their homes.

The incident started with a report that a 20-year-old woman had had her hand slashed and her cellphone stolen during a party the night before, police said.

The woman ran to the nearby 7-Eleven store across Forest Avenue at 7 a.m. The woman told the clerk, Christina Layth, that she was from out of town and asked for help calling a cab.


The woman appeared calm at first, but Layth noticed blood on her hand when she handed her the telephone, and asked what had happened.

The woman started crying and said she had been jumped by two women at Riverton Apartments, Layth said. The woman then called police.

Police said the attack occurred inside 2 Pinewood Road and involved several people, according to the woman. The woman was threatened with a knife and cut on the thumb, police said.

Information from witnesses suggested there could be guns in the apartment, said Assistant Police Chief Michael Sauschuck.

“Our main concern was, the residence itself has a history of firearms,” he said.

Sauschuck did not elaborate on the types of incidents that may have been reported at that address. Ultimately, no guns were found in a search of the apartment.


The Special Reaction Team was activated and police swarmed the area, telling residents they had to leave. Later, residents who were still potentially in danger were ushered into the police department’s armored personnel carrier and taken away from the “hot zone,” where someone could be injured by gunfire.

Sim Kherallah, who is from Iraq, said his wife and three young children were frightened and didn’t know what to do. His wife doesn’t speak English and he speaks it poorly, he said. He was away from the home when the incident started and was unable to get to his family.

The family was reunited just before 1 p.m. as Kherallah’s wife and children stepped out of the armored vehicle.

Police said the occupants of the apartment at 2 Pinewood Road initially refused to communicate, then refused to come out. Some could be seen looking out an apartment window, and at one point one of them hung out of the window as he talked with police.

Sauschuck said police decided to wait, rather than use tear gas or another technique to dislodge the suspects and risk a confrontation. “From a tactical standpoint, we have all the time in the world,” he said.

The inconvenience for residents was an unfortunate result of the need to keep everyone safe, he said.


Police said they contacted the legal resident of the apartment but were unable to say during the incident whether any of the people inside were entitled to live there.

When the suspects surrendered about 2:45 p.m., they came out one at a time and were ordered to their knees and onto the grass beside the apartment as they were handcuffed.

Police charged Samadi Mohamad Hassan, 29, of Portland with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, criminal threatening, aggravated assault and violating bail conditions.

Police brought charges of disorderly conduct and failure to submit to arrest against Hassan Osman, 24, of Columbus, Ohio; Biniam Tsegai, 24, of Portland; Hassan Akubar, 20, of Portland; Mohamud Said, 24, of Portland; and Samantha Pecoraro, 26, whom they described as a transient.

Neighbors said the apartment has been a problem for a long time, including late-night parties and many people arriving and leaving.

Crowds of frustrated residents, including many children, gathered around the scene Friday. “We have little kids here,” said Angela Charles. “We can’t get anything to eat. We had to leave without any money.”


“I’m not really nervous about it,” said Aisha Warsame. “I’m just waiting for it to end. I just hope nobody gets hurt.”

Charles Chris said he returned home from working a night shift at 6 a.m., went out to get something to eat and, when he returned, was not allowed back. “I haven’t slept yet,” he said.

Later, many of the residents clapped and cheered as one suspect was put into a cruiser. Others were taken away in an arrest van.

After the surrender, Special Reaction Team members armed with a search warrant swept the building and found no other suspects. Police would not say what the team found before turning the apartment over to detectives to search for evidence of criminal activity.

Police Chief James Craig said at the scene that officers performed well and the mission was a success.

“To me, a win is when the community is safe, the officers are safe, and when the people involved are safe,” he said.


Police said they plan to bring charges of aggravated assault and robbery, and may explore charges of creating a police standoff. It’s not clear what charges would be brought against which suspects. Decisions will depend on evidence found at the apartment and interviews with suspects and witnesses.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:



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