A ‘gunfire vandal’ is shooting at automated enforcement cameras

    In this still from a video released by PPB, a man is seen shooting three rounds into an automated enforcement camera on SE Washington just east of 103rd.

    A Portland driver has unlocked a new level of rage. In several acts of what the Portland Police Bureau are referring to as “gunfire vandalism,” someone is driving around and shooting at automated enforcement cameras.

    In a statement Thursday, the PPB said the suspect has fired a handgun at “city equipment” at least seven times and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. While they didn’t mention what type of city equipment is being targeted, it’s very obvious what’s going on based on a video released by PPB in an effort to track down the shooter.

    In a PPB video from May 27th around 5:10 am, a man is shown driving a black Subaru WRX eastbound on SE Washington through the intersection of 103rd. When he see the traffic camera just east of the southeast corner, he hits the brakes, swerves over and parks in the bike lane, hops out, draws his weapon, aims it high, fires off three shots, then runs back to his car and drives away.

    There’s a Portland Bureau of Transportation “intersection safety camera” at that exact spot. The camera snaps photos and sends citations in the mail to folks who run the light and/or speed. It was installed within the last year and is one of 27 automated enforcement cameras currently operated by PBOT (with more on the way). The agency sees the cameras as a vital part of their Vision Zero effort that has zeroed in on speed as a main culprit of traffic deaths and injuries.

    The camera that was shot at, as seen in an October 2023 Google image.

    It’s a setback for a program that was beset by delays for years due to what city officials said were delays in procurement and problems with the vendor. It was only last fall when the logjam broke and a flood of new cameras were able to hit the streets. PBOT chooses camera locations based on crash history and law requires them to only be used on streets with an above average rate of collisions.

    Most of the revenue from the citations (around 70%) goes to the State of Oregon. Of the money that does come to the City of Portland, most of it goes back into maintaining and operating the system. Anything left over is dedicated to safety projects on high crash corridors. Some violators are given an option to attend a safety class in lieu of payment.

    When I shared a video about this on Instagram this morning, several commenters expressed concern about stray bullets. Others cheered the shooter, calling him a “hero.” “Why are we mad about this? These cameras suck,” someone wrote. This situation reflects an erosion of norms since the pandemic that has resulted in more reckless driving and wanton disregard among some drivers for courteous vehicle operation and compliance with traffic laws.

    PPB are asking anyone with information about the suspect to email and put “Property Crimes Unit case number 24-134019” in the subject line.

    — Learn more about PBOT’s enforcement camera program here.

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