Detectives baffled by slaying of martial arts student

Brian Spaulding found slain in his NE Portland home on Monday

Picture of Brian Spaulding as seen on June 13, 2017. (Courtesy of Spaulding family)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Friends and family are in shock and detectives are baffled after a man known for his kindness was found slain in his Northeast Portland home.

Brian Spaulding was found dead in his home in the 3500 block of NE 10th Avenue near Fremont on Monday and an autopsy revealed his death to be a homicide. He was shot to death but investigators said they don’t know who or why.

Family members told KOIN 6 News Spaulding worked as a massage therapist at a center in Southeast Portland and for the past 7 years has also been a martial arts student at Straight Blast Gym in Northeast Portland.

Zach Thornton, a manager and coach at Straight Blast Gym, said Spaulding was “open, kind, really jovial. I never saw him without a smile on his face and I never heard him say a bad thing about somebody before, ever, really.”

He was also the kind of guy who put in extra time to help new students who had less experience, Thornton said.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Detective Todd Gradwahl at 503.823.0991 or Detective Rico Beniga at 503.823.0457

Spaulding practiced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Thornton said your personality really comes out when you’re training.

“You can’t really help it. If you’re aggressive, you end up being aggressive. If you’re angry, you end up training in an angry way and people get that vibe from you,” Thornton said.

But Spaulding “was always kind and helpful and it not only showed in his personality but out on the mat.”

Brian Spaulding in an undated courtesy photo provided to KOIN 6 News on June 13, 2017
Brian Spaulding in an undated courtesy photo provided to KOIN 6 News on June 13, 2017

He was a regular at the gym, training 3 or 4 times a week but tapered off the last couple of months when he got busy with life, Thornton said.

“He was extremely physically capable, but you know, there’s no type of Kung Fu or anything that’s going to block a bullet,” Thornton told KOIN 6 News. “If somebody shoots you, you’re shot.”

People who spent time with him at the gym said his killing just doesn’t make any sense.

Zach Thornton of Straight Blast Gym in Portland, June 14, 2017 (KOIN)
Zach Thornton of Straight Blast Gym in Portland, June 14, 2017 (KOIN)

“I’m just beside myself,” Thornton said. “We all just kind of look at one another like, why? How? It’s kind of unexplainable.”

His mother told KOIN News he graduated from massage school and spent most of his time working as a massage therapist or training with martial arts.

She said he will be greatly missed by family and friends, but they are just in shock and there is no rhyme nor reason for his death.