A houseless person was found dead on the morning of Feb. 19 outside Portland State’s Millar Library.
Campus Public Safety Office Chief of Police Donnell Tanksley said “there were no signs of trauma,” though the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to release its report on the cause of death and identity of the individual.
CPSO Homeless Liaison Officer Peter Ward responded to the scene and said he knew the individual and had interacted with them occasionally since starting with CPSO in 2013.
Ward said none of his interactions with the individual had been negative, and when he found them he thought the encounter would be as simple as waking them up, saying “Good morning,” letting them know classes were starting soon and it was time to move on.
“It was a shock to have found [them] like that,” Ward said.
When asked to provide the number of people that die on campus per year, Tanksley said estimating that number would be difficult, as only violent deaths are recorded as a part of Clery Act requirements. This means deaths like suicides, natural deaths and any other deaths not part of a violent crime are not tracked by CPSO.
Multnomah County released a report that 79 houseless people died in Portland in 2017, and 80 died in 2016. A 2018 report has yet to be released.