GUNS 'N' COFFEE Before going to work that morning at the Fresh Pot along North Mississippi, Nellyda Anslow says she had a premonition--a weird feeling in her stomach, something about guns. For the past month, with the simmering heat, petty crimes around the North Portland neighborhood had been steadily increasing.
"There's just been this vibe around," Anslow says, explaining that she has seen an increase in what she suspects is gang activity--or at least gangbanger posturing. Groups of teenagers wearing either all-black or all-white do-rags have been congregating around the corner of Mississippi and Shaver where the Fresh Pot sits--a long-time gang turf boundary.
However, until Saturday the crimes had not amounted to more than menacing loitering and simple larceny. Twice, a couple of teens had tried to swipe the coffee shop's tip jar.
"They had this divide-and-conquer game," explains Anslow. One teen would loiter at the far end of the counter and ask for a napkin or a cup of water. While the barista was distracted, the partner would swipe the jar and bolt. Once, Anslow chased down two would-be thieves; when they saw her coming, they dropped the jar. But when the same trick was pulled last Friday and a patron ran after the thief, he pulled a gun out. The patron backed down immediately.
By 4 pm on Saturday afternoon, the Fresh Pot was packed. "There were tons of people outside," she says. "I look up and there are some gangbanger guys talking to the customers, asking for cigarettes and weed," she remembers. "The next thing I know everyone is running, trying to get behind the counter."
Within several seconds, a small stampede rushed into the Fresh Pot and neighboring store, Mississippi Records. Five shots rang out. Two assailants hopped into a Pathfinder and squealed away. Anslow huddled behind the counter and dialed 9-1-1. Two victims lay in the street; one bleeding from the mouth.
Most witnesses assumed the victim died--he was bleeding from a shot that punctured his lung. But he was rushed to Emanuel Legacy and remains alive. So far the police have no leads or suspects. It was only one of several shootings over the city's hottest weekend so far this summer.
Calling the neighborhood resilient, Anslow said that the broad daylight shooting was sobering, but doesn't think it will ruffle too many feathers. She adds that her premonition has gone away. "It feels like the air has cleared," she says. PB