PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A parked, stolen car being watched by Portland police officers led to the arrest of 2 men and the discovery of 5 rifles at a homeless camp on the city’s northwest side.
A PPB officer was patrolling the area of NW 19th and Thurman when he saw an illegally parked car with Washington plates. The officer found out the car was stolen and decided to watch it to see if anyone returned.
Eventually, court documents revealed, Eric Christian Nunez walked to the car, opened the driver’s side door, the trunk and the passenger door, took several items from the car over to a nearby tent. Nunez repeated the actions a few minutes later.
A second officer came to the scene and they demanded the people in the tent to come out. As they gave their orders, the first officer reported hearing a metal-on-metal noise that “sounded like the sound a gun makes when a round is being chambered into a gun,” according to court documents filed on Monday.
Two men eventually came out — Jordan Alexander Clark was first and then Nunez. Court documents said Nunez was wearing a rifle bullet as a pendant.
Clark, 24, said he only touched one gun to see if it was real, and Nunez said Clark had nothing to do with “whatever I’m here for,” according to court documents.
Because of their past records, neither is allowed to possess a gun.
Nunez, 42, has felony convictions for unlawful possession of heroin and unlawful delivery of meth. Clark has been convicted for first-degree theft.
Both men said they’ve been transients for several years. Investigators learned that Clark and Nunez have been living in the tent, sharing space.
Nunez is charged with 5 counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count each of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Clark is charged with 5 counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Both men appeared in court on Monday.
Where the guns came from
Officers with the Gun Task Force learned the rifles had been reported stolen in Clackamas County following a burglary, according to police. Inside the vehicle police found a stolen handgun.
“Unfortunately, there are criminal activities occurring in some of these places, drugs, weapons and things,”PPB Sgt. Pete Simpson said. “But to have rifles found is very eye-opening, not only for the officers but probably for the community.”
“Reports of petty theft and vandalism are common, but this incident takes it to another level,” said Gustavo J. Cruz, Jr., the president of the Northwest District Association.
“There has been an increasing homeless presence throughout our neighborhood over the last few years, particularly on the east side of the neighborhood near the freeway.”
Ron Walters, a neighbor, told KOIN 6 News that last Friday he and his wife were walking their dog and saw multiple large tents entirely blocking both sides of Northwest 19th.
“We had to walk in the bike lane and street to get past the tents,” Walters said. “If it had been a parent with children in a stroller, an elderly person, or someone with ADA needs, the conditions would be dangerous and threatening.”
Cruz said it’s troubling guns are being seen in the neighborhood, but added he’s not personally worried for his safety.
“I think that people are starting to be concerned about encountering homeless people, for example, camped out on certain sidewalks in Northwest Portland.”
Cruz said “there’s room for improvement everywhere” in the way the city of Portland is handling the homeless issue.
KOIN 6 News reporter Eileen Park contributed to this report.