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Erik Salvador AYALA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Mass shooting - A clear motive was never found
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: January 24, 2009
Date of birth: March 10, 1984
Victims profile: Ashley Lauren Wilks, 16 / Martha "Tika" Paz de Noboa, 17
Method of murder: Shooting (9mm semi-automatic handgun)
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day. Died at a hospital on January 26, 2009

2009 Portland nightclub shooting

On January 24, 2009, Erik Salvador Ayala opened fire indiscriminately outside of an under-21 nightclub, called The Zone, in Portland, Oregon, United States, killing two attendees and wounding seven others. Most of the victims were foreign exchange students. Police have defined murders as a random act of violence. It has been called, "the worst mass shooting in Portland's history".

Ayala was critically wounded after the attack by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He died two days later in a Portland-area hospital.


At approximately 10:30 p.m. PST, Ayala drove his vehicle to Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Main Street in the downtown of Portland, and walked ahead of The Zone, an under-21 nightclub where a birthday party was being held. Ayala fired indiscriminately onto a group of teenagers and customers waiting outside the entrance of KELL's Irish Pub with a 9mm Tanfoglio T95 semiautomatic pistol, killing two people and wounding seven others. Most of the victims were in a foreign exchange student program. Ayala then shot himself in the head, critically injuring himself in the suicide attempt, dying on the following Tuesday afternoon at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

16-year-old Ashley Lauren Wilks was pronounced dead at the scene, by responding emergency personnel, from two gunshot wounds. 17-year-old Martha Paz De Noboa was pronounced dead at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital shortly after being shot. 18-year-old Susanna De Sousa was in critical condition from injuries to her stomach, chest, and neck. Bradley Yoast, the general manager of Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, a neighboring bar, suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach; he was discharged from a hospital two weeks later.



Three people were killed in the shooting, including the shooter. They are:

  • Ashley Lauren Wilks, 16 (Happy Valley, Oregon), killed at the scene

  • Martha "Tika" Paz de Noboa, 17 (Arequipa, Peru), died at a hospital on January 24

  • Erik Salvador Ayala, 24 (Milwaukie, Oregon), the shooter, died at a hospital on January 26


Seven people were injured in the shooting:

  • Jouyuan Trista Chang, 18 (Taiwan)

  • Susanna "Susy" De Sousa, 18 (Italy)

  • Jalontae Howard, 16 (Portland, Oregon)

  • Gonzalo Vasquez Orozco, 18 (Guatemala)

  • Anne Sophie Rialland, 16 (France)

  • Ana Zambrano Soledispa, 18 (Ecuador)

  • Bradley Steven Yoast, 44 (Portland, Oregon)


The perpetrator of the shooting was Erik Salvador Ayala, 24 (March 10, 1984 - January 27, 2009). He graduated from McNary High School, in Keizer, Oregon, in 2002. Although a clear motive was never found, investigators speculated that Ayala had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic during his high school years and once attempted suicide by overdosing on over-the-counter drugs. He worked at Burger King and threw his medication into the garbage instead of taking it. They also state that he used online discussion boards where he stated he disliked "Preppies". He lived at the Pine Ridge Apartments, in Milwaukie (formerly known as Willow Court) where the police and the community have had a long history of ongoing problems (drug dealing, crime, abuse, etc.).


Suspect in Portland shooting rampage dies

By Mary Hudetz -

January 28, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The 24-year-old man accused of killing two people and wounding seven others before turning the gun on himself died Tuesday as police sought a motive for what has been described as the worst mass shooting in Portland's history.

Erik S. Ayala died in a Portland hospital of a head wound.

Police say that on Saturday, he fired into a group of young people outside an under-21 nightclub. A teenage girl from Peru and one from Oregon died.

Among the seven injured in the shooting spree were five foreign youths - all exchange students, like the Peruvian who died. They were from Italy, France, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Taiwan.

Ayala died as police were still trying to discover why he shot at the young people. Police say they may have been chosen at random.

Police have questioned Ayala's family, but "they really don't know themselves," said Detective Mary Wheat, Portland Police Bureau spokeswoman.

Also Tuesday, new details emerged about how Ayala acquired the 9mm handgun used in the shooting.

Ayala bought the Italian-made weapon from a Portland pawn shop on Jan. 9, a little more than two weeks before the shooting, Portland police said.

The pawn shop owner, Bryan Kellim, told The Associated Press that Ayala had come into the store a couple of days before that looking to buy a 9mm gun for about $400.

Kellim said Ayala didn't seem to be an experienced gun owner and asked about learning to shoot, so Kellim recommended a gun safety course.

"He was polite, he was friendly, he seemed like a regular guy," Kellim said.

One of his workers recognized Ayala on Monday after police released a photo of him, Kellim said.

"When my employee called me and said this was the person in the shooting, we all said, 'Wow!' " Kellim said. "Literally, we were shocked."

Neighbors and the manager at his apartment complex in suburban Milwaukie told The Associated Press that Ayala was a quiet and friendly resident in an area riddled with crime.

Michael White, the 32-year-old manager, lives in an apartment across from Ayala and said the two traded small talk, with video games among the topics.

White said he believed Ayala had not been working in recent months because he was spending more time around the apartment complex than he had in the past.

Ayala worked for the Oregon Department of Human Services in Salem as a data entry clerk from March 2006 to July 2007, officials said.

But there was no record of other employment with the state, and investigators have not said whether he had a job.

White said Ayala paid his rent and never spoke of any financial troubles or other problems.

"He was always really calm - didn't seem really too up or down," White said.

He had entered Ayala's two-bedroom apartment for repairs and said it appeared especially clean. But like Ayala, nothing about the apartment seemed particularly out of the ordinary, White said.

"Honestly, he just blended in with everybody else," he said.

Wheat confirmed the weapon used in the shooting was traced to the pawn shop. She said Ayala had attempted to purchase the weapon on Jan. 6 but did not have the correct identification. He returned on Jan. 9 with proper ID.

Wheat says that Ayala wasn't a U.S. citizen, but as far as police know, he was in the country legally.

The teenage girls killed in the shooting were Martha "Tika" Paz de Noboa, a 17-year-old Peruvian exchange student, and 16-year-old Ashley Wilks, a sophomore at Clackamas High School in suburban Portland.

Susanna DeSousa, 18, of Italy, was at Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, where Ayala died Tuesday afternoon. Her doctor said she was in stable but serious condition and is expected to survive.


Shooting spree suspect left behind a note

January 27, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. - Police said suspected gunman Erik Salvador Ayala was reportedly depressed and unemployed when he left a note for his roommate that insinuated suicide, drove to downtown Portland and opened fire on a random crowd Saturday night, killing two people and injuring seven before turning the gun on himself.

Police released those new details Monday afternoon during a news conference on the shooting spree investigation. But they still don't know why the nine people were gunned down in what police said was a random shooting that lasted but a few seconds. They also don't know how Ayala obtained a 9mm semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting spree.

Meanwhile, Ayala remained in critical condition Monday at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. Police said he shot himself in the head following Saturday night's shooting rampage outside the underage nightclub called The Zone on Southwest 2nd Avenue.

Eight of the nine victims were teenagers, many of them foreign exchange students. Investigators don't believe they were targeted but simply just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Following the shooting, investigators executed a search warrant at Ayala's Milwaukie home on Sunday afternoon and found a case for the 9mm handgun as well as ammunition, numerous video games and a note Ayala had left for his roommate.

In the note, Ayala said he was giving all his possessions to his roommate, Mike Delisle, including his video game system and car, which Ayala wrote could be found "somewhere downtown, but I'm not sure where. I'm sure you'll get a letter about it soon." 

Police said the note "insinuated possible thoughts of suicide."

Investigators believe Ayala drove his vehicle to the area of Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Main Street before walking to the nightclub and opening fire about 10:30 p.m. Police found the car and cordoned it off after the shooting.

Delisle told KATU he found the note hours after Ayala had left it. Delisle said he initially went looking for Ayala but then stayed home, hoping his roommate would return.

Delisle, a college student, then went to work. Sometime later, police found him there and told him what happened.

"I was sick to my stomach and shaking," Delisle said. "I wasn't even aware that he had a gun - or let alone that he could even afford it."

Delisle said his roommate was unemployed and seemed depressed but otherwise had not shown any signs of violence.

"Everyone that knows him is really shocked," Delisle said.

Much of Ayala's recent life is a mystery. He attended McNary High School, where he was in the band, and he worked for a temp agency. Delisle said his roommate liked to play video games and was quiet and "kind of a loner."

Anyone who had contact with Ayala in the days before the shooting or anyone with additional information was asked to call Portland Police Detective Ken Whattam (503) 823-0696 or Detective Mark Slater (503) 823-9319.  Anyone with information concerning when and where Ayala obtained the handgun used in the shooting should also call the above detectives.

The following is the contents of the note police said they recovered in the suspect's home:

To my friends and family:
I am sorry.

And to my friend, (redacted)

I am especially sorry. I know it's not much consolation but as my friend and roommate you are entitled to everything that I own. Maybe these things can bring in a few bucks.

Good luck in this (expletive) world.


If you need my personal information for any reason, here it is:

My ssn: (redacted)
My bank account number: (redacted)
My alien number: (redacted)
My ODL: 974739
My birthdate: 03-10-84

The check I wrote you should be most of the money in my account. I gave you an affidavit in case you want to check what's left but it's probably less than $20.

Qwest account login:


My car is up to date with maintenance. It just leaks a little oil. You can probably get at least 2.5 grand for it. It'll be somewhere downtown but I'm not sure where. I'm sure you'll get a letter about it soon.

You know my ps3 is special. Similar USED ps3's go for AT LEAST $450-$500. Our landlord guy wants a ps3 like mine. Let him know that $400 would be a GOOD deal. If he doesn't want it, format the drive by going to Settings>System>Format Utility. You can say it "comes with the latest firmware software" to help market it on the internet. In case you don't know, it's the special "100% backwards compatible" (60 GB) ps3.

I'm sorry to put all this on you buddy, good luck.


Police seek motive in Portland club shooting

January 26, 2009

Investigators say they don't know what led a 24-year-old Milwaukie man to allegedly fire on a crowd outside a popular underage downtown Portland nightclub Saturday night, killing two teenage girls in a Rotary Club exchange program and wounding seven others in what authorities say is the worst mass shooting in the city's history.

Police Chief Rosie Sizer called the shooting "a random act of violence of the kind that makes you despair for America."

Rotary International officials said they couldn't remember any incident in the exchange program's history that matched the level of violence inflicted on the group of foreign students Saturday night. They called it a "tragic irony" that such a thing could happen to students who come to this country to foster world understanding and peace.

"I can't recall anything comparable to this at all," said Wayne Hearn, a spokesman for Rotary International North America. "The kids look at this as an experience of a lifetime. Something like this is an aberration."

Ashley Lauren Wilks, a 16-year-old Clackamas High School sophomore who was set to spend her junior year in France or Spain, died at the scene. Marta Paz De Novoa, 17, from Arequipa, Peru, who was living with a host family in White Salmon, Wash., died at OHSU Hospital. Another exchange student was in critical condition.

The gunman, identified as Erik Salvador Ayala of Milwaukie, put the gun to his own head after shooting nine people. He was in critical condition at Legacy Emanuel Hospital.

Police located a car registered to Ayala on the east side of Southwest Fourth Avenue, across from the Multnomah County courthouse. Half a dozen police also converged on Ayala's Milwaukie apartment on Southeast 32nd Avenue on Sunday afternoon to search for clues.

The teens were among a group of 11 students from the Rotary District 5100 Youth Exchange program on a social outing organized by a host parent to celebrate a Guatemalan student's birthday. The exchange students came from France, Italy, Ecuador, Guatemala and Taiwan and were being hosted by families in Oregon and Washington. Besides the two students killed, four other exchange students in the group were wounded.

"Apparently, they all felt the place they were going to go (The Zone nightclub) was well-established and a very reputable place," said Chuck Itoh, chairman of the student exchange program.

By Sunday afternoon, parents of at least two of the foreign students wounded were en route to Oregon, while the Rotary Club was working to arrange housing and counseling for the students and host families.

Sizer extended her sympathies to the victim's families. "I think what we all want now is answers. We are working to get those. ... It's the randomness as well as the scale that is outside of anything that we know of in the past."

Rotary Club members, host families and school officials in at least two different states and families worldwide were devastated, struggling to understand how a celebratory night out could have turned so tragic.

"It's deeply saddening for us. One of our top priorities is always the safety and well-being of the youth exchange participants," said Scott Bieber, youth protection officer for Rotary District 5100, which encompasses northern Oregon and southwestern Washington. "When something like this happens, it hurts us all, it saddens us all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased and the injured students."

Police say they haven't found any connection between Ayala, who fired at least eight to 10 rounds outside The Zone on Southwest Second Avenue before shooting himself in the head, and the group of exchange students, who were waiting outside to get into the club. Court records show Ayala had no criminal record in Oregon other than a speeding ticket in 2004.

A teenage performer at The Zone, 16-year-old Jalontae Howard, who was outside the club, was shot in the ankle. The general manager of the nearby Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, Brad Yoast, was shot in the stomach, possibly by a bullet that ricocheted, and had surgery overnight.

Never inside club

Police said the gunman walked to the Southwest Second Avenue block outside The Zone and started firing. They didn't believe he was ever inside the club, and they didn't know of any relationship between him and any of the victims.

William Kennedy, 17, with Team Promotions, was inside The Zone, talking beside the bar near the front entrance when suddenly he heard, "pow, pow, pow, pow." He said he ducked under a bar ledge, and when the gunfire subsided, he looked out front. "I just see two girls down, laying outside. Two pairs of feet by the front doorway," Kennedy said. "They had just been waiting outside on line to get in."

He said he saw the club's DJ outside administering CPR on one of the victims. Kennedy said he heard at least five gunshots above the hip-hop music blaring inside.

"That's scary stuff," said Kennedy, as he dragged nervously on a cigarette outside the club shortly after the shootings.

David Little and his son Bryan of Gold Beach were at Kells after the Trail Blazers game Saturday night. "We heard 'pop, pop, pop, pop and bam ...," David Little said, thinking that the "bam" sound might have been the bouncer's lectern falling to the ground outside.

He looked outside and said he saw a young man injured, likely the shooter. "The young man was crouched down between two cars just outside Kells," David Little said. He said Kells' bouncer shoved people inside the door of the bar.

Dominique Howard, 19, was in The Zone at the time of the shootings. He posted a MySpace bulletin asking for prayers for his brother, Jalontae, 16, a Centennial High School student. : "i witnessed 2 girls get killed my head is going crazy im bugging out."

John Plew, an owner of The Zone, was at the Blazers game with fellow owner Dan Lenzen when he heard about the shootings. Plew said the club provides a safe place for kids to go and dance and called it a horrible, random event.

Jeff Vaudt, who lives in an apartment nearby, was watching a movie at home when he said he heard at least eight to 10 shots. "It just had to be a good-sized gun, just by the sound of it. They were deep, deep sounds."

Customer screams

Viyarda Marson, a waitress at the E-San Thai Cuisine across the street from The Zone, said diners heard the shootings. One customer stood up, screaming that she just saw a man shoot himself. Marson said she saw the gunman fall to the ground.

At least one member of a wedding party that was being held above Kells later clamored for information from police officers about what had just occurred.

Matt Utterback, Clackamas High School principal, said at least five of the school's students, including Wilks and an 18-year-old critically injured Italian exchange student, Susy De Sousa, were at the club Saturday night.

He called Wilks an honors student who competed on the swim team and De Sousa a friendly spirit with a good sense of humor.

"This random act of violence has cut short a young life and threatened another," Utterback said, referring to the two Clackamas High students. "Such a horrific act is impossible to accept or understand."

The Rotary District 5100 Youth Exchange committee met for three hours Sunday afternoon. Members were focused on supporting students, host families and the parents of the deceased and wounded children.

Duane Vaubel, vice chair of the committee, called it an "extreme tragedy."

"It should not have happened. It's an unavoidable situation from our standpoint," Vaubel said.

The Rotary youth exchange organizers suspect the program might falter in the wake of the violence but remained committed to its future.

"I don't think you can have a tragedy of this magnitude without having a certain amount of impact," Bieber said. "We're going to work as hard as we can to minimize any negative effect it might have on the program because Rotary believes wholeheartedly in its commitment to advance world understanding, good will and peace. We feel strongly that this exchange program does that."

Though Central Precinct police have five officers and a sergeant dedicated to the downtown entertainment district, chief Sizer said it's impossible to develop a patrol strategy for "something that is so unexpected, so random and so violent."

-- Noelle Crombie, Elizabeth Suh, Steve Mayes, Lynne Palombo, Suzanne Pardington, Amy Hsuan and Yuxing Zheng contributed to this report.

Suspect called quiet, video game fan

Erik Salvador Ayala was a quiet man with an interest in computers and video games, not guns or nightclubs, his friend and roommate said Sunday.

Ayala's mysterious appearance and alleged shooting spree outside a downtown Portland club Saturday night shocked and mystified his friends, said Mike Delisle, Ayala's roommate.

He said he had no idea why his roommate went downtown Saturday night and he doesn't think Ayala knew any of the victims.

"It was a big surprise. I didn't see it coming," said Delisle, who attended Keizer's McNary High School with Ayala. "He was a quiet person. He kept to himself."

Ayala did not frequent dance clubs, such as The Zone, Delisle said. Ayala was not a violent person, did not own a gun and never showed an interest in firearms, he said.

Ayala had worked for the state of Oregon as a contract employee about two years ago. Since then he has worked for temporary employment agencies, Delisle said.

In high school, Ayala was in the McNary band and was a bit of a practical joker.

He kept to himself and was hesitant to show his emotions, Delisle said.

One of the things that brought him joy was playing video games such as "Resistance: Fall of Man," in which an Army Ranger fights an alien race that is trying to take over the world, or "Left 4 Dead," where the object is to slay fighting zombies.

Half a dozen criminalists converged on a Milwaukie apartment Sunday afternoon to shoot video, take still photographs and examine Ayala's home.

The apartment is among 18 in four buildings that make up a small complex on Southeast 32nd Avenue.

The police said Sunday evening that Ayala, 24, was the man who shot nine people Saturday night. He shot himself afterward and was in critical condition Sunday night.

Earlier on Sunday, a police video photographer went alone into the small apartment for more than 30 minutes, then the other forensic officers, pulling on rubber gloves, entered as well.

Ayala's neighbors said the complex draws students and other short-term tenants who generally don't speak anything more than pleasantries to each other.

Esther Ramirez, 24, who moved into the apartment directly above Ayala's eight months ago, said she had seen a woman who appeared to be Ayala's girlfriend coming out of Ayala's apartment; she said she thinks the girlfriend is deaf because Ayala communicated with her with American Sign Language.

Jake Moreland, 15, and his mother, Renee, 48, live in an apartment directly across a small courtyard from Ayala. Renee Moreland said she saw police officers around the Ayala building well into Sunday morning; she said she was stunned to know the possible reasons for the police interest.

"He was really quiet," she said. "I just can't believe this is happening."

Records show that Erik Salvador Ayala once lived in Keizer at the same address as Salvador and Mildred Ayala in a one-story, ranch-style home in a working-class neighborhood.

No one answered the door at the white house with blue trim Sunday afternoon.

There was a car and a pickup in the driveway.

Neighbors say the Ayalas are a nice family, willing to help out if they can. They are quiet, no complaints, said Sidney Mosley, who lives next door. Mosley has lived in the neighborhood for two years and said the Ayalas were there when she moved in.

Mosley said she knows the mom doesn't speak a lot of English. There is a girl who goes to high school and boys living there, though Mosley doesn't know how many boys or their names. She thinks one of the boys works for Target.

Told that one of the sons may have been involved in a shooting in Portland, she said: "I wouldn't have thought anything like that."

A neighbor across the street said she found it "incredibly hard to believe" that one of the boys from the Ayala family would be involved. The neighbor did not want to be named and was not willing to give information other than to confirm that Salvador and Mildred Ayala lived across from her. She said the Ayala kids have helped her out when her car was broken and also helped her with her computer.

-- Steve Mayes, Anne Saker and Michelle Cole

Profiles of the shooting victims

Victims of Saturday night's shooting include six foreign Rotary Exchange students and three Americans. Three other exchange students attending Clackamas High School were with the group at the Zone but were not hit by gunfire.

Ashley Wilks, 16, a sophomore at Clackamas High School, who was killed Saturday, was planning to spend her junior year in France. Neighbors of the Wilks family said Ashley was a straight-A student who was planning to go on an exchange trip to France next year. The girl was close to her older brother, Justin, who also attends Clackamas High. The family moved to Happy Valley from Colorado a couple of years ago and likes to go skiing and rafting. "I can't believe it, of all the people, so much promise," said a neighbor who asked that his name not be used. "She was like the ideal daughter."

A 17-year-old girl from Arequipa, Peru, who was killed, has been hosted since September by a family in White Salmon, Wash. Janet McCutcheon, principal of Columbia High School in White Salmon, said she was a nice girl but quiet. She was kind of shy because she had not quite mastered English and worried about making mistakes when she spoke. McCutcheon said she believed that she had completed her schooling in Peru before coming to White Salmon but was listed as a junior at the high school, as are all foreign exchange students. She went through the Portland Rotary Exchange program. The school has an exchange student from White Salmon in the girl's hometown in Peru.

Brad Yoast, 44, general manager of Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, was talking to security just outside the restaurant when he was shot in the stomach, possibly by a ricochet. Lucille McAleese, owner of Kells, said he had surgery overnight. She said he is expected to make a complete recovery.

Jalontae Howard, 16, was recovering Sunday night after being shot in the right ankle. Howard is a junior at Centennial High School and an accomplished dancer. He and his older brother, Dominique, are both members of a krumping dance group called the Snubb Family. They have performed all over the West Coast. Jalontae Howard, the youngest in the group, is nicknamed "Looney Snubb" because of his comedic dance style. The Snubb crew hang out frequently at the Zone and often participate in dance competitions. His dancing is so popular at Centennial High, he told The Oregonian last year, that during lunch "they won't even let me eat. They're always asking me to krump." Krumping is a dance that started in California as an alternative to gangs. Howard and his dance partners are all avowed Christians.

Anne Sophie Rialland, 16, of Lebaule, France, is going to West Linn High School. Rialland told her student newspaper that she lives with her parents, a 14-year-old sister and two cats in her hometown. She also said that her favorite food is French cheese and her favorite movie is "Lost in Translation." Her school in France was small, with only 100 students. No hospital would confirm Sunday that she was a patient.

Susy De Sousa, 18, from Italy, who is a senior at Clackamas High School, was shot multiple times and is critcally injured. "This is a significant tragedy to our school community," said Matt Utterback, principal of Clackamas High. "It certainly is a tragedy to those families. It's unimaginable what those families must be going through right now. Our goal is supporting our students and our staff, and we are making plans to do so." Utterback said he planned to notify students, parents and staff Sunday night. Counselors will be available at the school starting today.

Ana Zambrano, of Puerto Viejo, Ecuador, is attending Glencoe High School in Hillsboro. She is in fair condition at OHSU Hospital. According to the Glencoe student newspaper, Zambrano was struggling with the language barrier, which, she said, made it hard for her to learn a different culture and make new friends. She said she misses home. She talked about being bored in Hillsboro and sometimes going to Portland to see a movie.

Gonzalo Mauricio Vasques Orozco, "Gonzo" from Guatemala, is going to high school in Hood River. He was in fair condition at OHSU Hospital on Sunday after having surgery. By the afternoon he had text-messaged friends. Rotary Club of Hood River reported his arrival in its newsletter last fall. Karen Ford of Hood River was his first host mother. Reached by phone, Ford said Vasques Orozco now was staying with another host family, but she had been told he was OK although he was injured in the pelvic area. Richard Polkinghorn, a vice principal at Hood River Valley High School, said he'd heard that Vasques Orozco should be well enough to be released today. Polkinghorn said he'd been calling teachers to let them know what happened and help them prepare to speak with students.


Erik Salvador Ayala


The victims

Ashley Lauren Wilks, 16, left, and Martha Paz De Noboa, 17, died in a downtown Portland shooting that left seven others wounded.



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