October 21 2009

-The family of a Portland teenager killed in a Southeast Portland park in May pleaded Wednesday for tips that could lead to an arrest.
Borisshell Washington, 18, was gunned down about 9:20 p.m. May 31 at the entrance to Raymond Park off Southeast 118th Avenue. The Jefferson High School senior, who was set to graduate a week later, was attending a barbecue in the park. She died from a gunshot to the head.

Police said there were gang associates at the large gathering in the park but Washington was not the intended target in the shooting.

“Of all the people that was there, somebody knows something,” said Washington’s sister, Raynisha Mayes, 20. “Borisshell deserves to have someone step forward and speak for her. … If anyone has love for her and her family, they will step up.”

large_shel.jpgView full sizeFamily photoBorisshell WashingtonHer parents said they are too distraught to think about who was responsible.
“I haven’t had time to think about the person. I’m just missing my baby,” said her mom, Sara Issac. “I’m still hurting. My family deserves peace and justice. We haven’t truly accepted she’s gone.”

Boris Washington said his daughter had gone to the barbecue with a friend to look for a ride home. “I’m so empty. I’m to where I don’t have feelings anymore. I’m just done. … I’m too hurt to be angry.”

Shortly after the killing, police took an 18-year-old into custody on an accusation of murder but dropped the charge days later, saying he was the wrong man.

Homicide Detective Ken Whattam said he and his partner have made “significant steps” in their investigation. “But we need a lot better idea than we have” as to what led to the shooting. He estimated there were 50 to 70 people at the park gathering.

“She was just doing what any 18-year-old would do and was shot and killed for no reason,” Whattam said.

Witnesses and neighbors along Southeast 118th Avenue heard three gunshots. Some saw and heard at least two cars speed away on the unpaved road. Washington was left behind in a dust cloud, collapsing on the dirt entrance to the park. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Just days before the shooting, Washington’s mother and siblings had moved out of North Portland to a house in outer Southeast Portland to escape violence. Washington, whom friends and family called Shel or Shelly, helped persuade her family to move.

The teen had lined up modeling work with a local hair salon and was enrolled to start the following month at Phagans’ School of Hair Design in Northeast Portland.

“It’s hard, very hard,” her mother said. “Eighteen years, 18 years — to see your child grow up with ambition and wanting to be somebody. I was very proud of her. She wasn’t only my daughter. She was my best friend.”

Washington’s mother and sister said it’s hard to wake each day without her smile, laughter and friendship. “I still go to work every day,” said Issac, who works in a nursing home, “and pray every day for strength.”

The Portland Police Bureau, in cooperation with Crime Stoppers, announced it is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the homicide.

Call Crime Stoppers at 503-823-4357 or leave a tip on its Web site.

— Maxine Bernstein


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