PSU community mourns deaths of Deante Strickland and Lane Christopher Martin

The Portland State community continues to mourn the death of standout athlete Deante Strickland, who was fatally shot on the afternoon of Aug. 2 at his grandmother’s home in Northeast Portland. He was 22 years old.

Strickland—a star basketball player who was also set to play football for the Vikings in the fall—was a PSU senior and social science major. He was commonly referred to as “Strick.”

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Deante,” said PSU Athletics Director Valerie Cleary. “He represented everything it means to be a Viking in his hometown of Portland. He will forever be remembered for his character, determination and warm smile. Our prayers go out to his family and friends.” 

Strickland was born and raised in Portland. He attended Central Catholic High School, where he attracted attention as a standout basketball and football player. He wanted to one day coach kids in his neighborhood, get his master’s degree and work with children as a teacher or a coach, according to OregonLive.

Viking basketball coach Barret Peery said of Strickland, “We are better for having had Deante in our lives. His smile, passion and energy for life was second to none. He lit up a room and made the people around him better in every way. He loved his family, his friends and everyone around him. He had great pride in being a kid from Portland and it showed in how he competed each day. We will never forget him and he will always be with us.”

“I love Deante and am a better man for having the opportunity to coach him. This entire community will miss him.”

In an email sent out to the PSU community, Interim President Stephen Percy stated, “We at Portland State are shocked and saddened by the tragic loss Friday of student athlete Deante Strickland.” 

“We offer our condolences to the family, friends and others touched by [his] death.”

Strickland suffered fatal gunshot wounds to the chest at the hand of his sister, Tamena Strickland, 30, on the afternoon of Aug. 2. Two others, Deante’s grandmother Shirley Strickland, 67, and aunt Shirley Strickland, 25, were also shot, according to court documents. The other two victims were identified by family members to OregonLive.

Deante ran to a nearby construction site after the shooting for help. Construction workers attempted to help Strickland by calming him down and applying pressure to the wound while they waited for paramedics to arrive, according to Russell Steen, a construction worker who spoke with OregonLive. Deante died shortly thereafter, according to court documents.

Tamena Strickland was located and arrested later that evening on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, according to court documents.

The other two victims were transported to the hospital where they underwent surgery and are expected to recover. 

Tamena was charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder on Aug. 5. The motive for the shooting is unclear; as the case remains ongoing, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office is unable to provide any additional information. 

Damien Strickland, Deante’s uncle, told OregonLive that a 4-year-old child was also present at the shooting but was not harmed. 

Mourners laid flowers and candles beneath a poster of Strickland at the Viking Pavilion on Aug. 3—the day after the shooting—and many members of the PSU community released statements commemorating Strickland and the positive impact he had on those who knew him. Hundreds of mourners attended a vigil for Strickland held by his family members on the evening of Aug. 6. 

“Strick had great personality, a great smile and a great love for life,” Peery said. “He was a happy, fun person. He was so proud to be a Portland kid, and I think that’s why he loved being at Portland State so much, because wearing Portland State on his chest really meant something to him.”

“He was just that guy that warmed up a room, and had a great light about him, and a great energy, and again, everyone will tell you, he had a great smile.”

Holland Woods, a teammate and friend of Strickland who played with him on the Vikings for two years, said,  “He was like my best friend. When I got [to PSU] two years ago in June, he was my roommate…Soon as I got here, I didn’t know anybody. I’m from Phoenix. So he was right there, he put his arms around me from the start, treated me like his younger brother. I treated him like my younger brother. We were just there for each other.” 

“It’s just weird, going from talking to someone every single day, a bunch of hours in the day, seeing them everyday to not seeing them—it’s just hard. He was a loving and caring dude. I loved playing with him.” 

According to a statement released by the PSU athletics department, the Center for Student Health and Counseling and the athletics department are working to provide assistance to PSU athletes and the larger PSU community through the grieving process. 

A celebration of life ceremony is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. on Aug. 14 in the Viking Pavilion that the public is welcome to attend.  

PSU student Lane Christopher Martin passed away on July 30. He was 31 years old.

Martin was enrolled in the School of Art and Design and was hired on for a work-study position. He had previously attended Portland Community College and two other California community colleges to study art. 

For Martin, art was a lifelong pursuit. “Art has been something I did since I was 5 years old, and it became a tool I used while incarcerated,” he wrote on his website. “For me art is a way of life, it’s a hustle, it’s something that I live and breathe every day. My hope is that as I continue to paint and create art, I can inspire others to use art as a vehicle to help overcome their obstacles and make it through the painful experiences that life has to offer.”

According to Martin’s obituary, published in the Reno Gazette Journal, “Lane loved the outdoors, and spent most of his free time out hiking in the mountains or enjoying some time at a lake with his family and friends.” 

“Although we are all deeply saddened by his loss, Lane will forever live on in our hearts and minds, and his art will live on as a reminder of his creativity and colorful personality.”

On his website and Facebook page, Martin has many of his paintings and sculptures displayed—lush, abstract and psychedelic works centered around mandelas and nature, as well as portraits of pets, friends and family. 

Over the last several years, the pervasive theme in my life and art practice has been my struggle with substance abuse,” Martin had written on his website. 

Martin wrote that his addiction to narcotics led him down a “dark and painful path” where the only way out was “death or incarceration.”

“When the consequences of my actions finally caught up and I was sent to prison, I sought to use my experience to become a better artist and become a better human being and a stronger artist,” he wrote.

He wrote that while he was in prison, he began to work with yarn and other materials that he was able to get through a mail-order catalogue. He made crocheted beanies and sold them online for commissary. 

According to his obituary, “Lane struggled with addiction and mental health issues over the years but was able to return to his beautiful self, time and time again, and we are forever grateful to those who helped him with his struggles.”

Martin was shot and killed by Portland Police in East Portland on July 30, the day before his birthday. Police were called to the scene when they received reports of a man causing a disturbance with a weapon outside of a Southeast Portland apartment complex. 

Witnesses said that police took action after Martin displayed what looked like a hatchet or a small axe. Officers initially fired at him with beanbags, causing Martin to drop his weapon and flee. The officers then caught up with Martin and switched to regular bullets as he turned to flee again, according to a witness who lives in the apartment complex speaking with OregonLive.

Witnesses told OregonLive that Martin appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis.

One resident of the apartment complex told OregonLive that he was once housed at Multnomah County Inverness Jail with Martin, and that Martin was a diagnosed schizophrenic.

All three officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave during an ongoing investigation into the shooting, according to OPB.

Court records show that in 2014, Martin pleaded guilty to an attempted assault when he unexpectedly attacked a friend, as well as to one count of heroin possession. Martin hadn’t been arrested since then and was enrolled in treatment programs for addiction, according to court records.

PSU associate professor Michelle Illuminato, who taught Martin sculpture and worked closely with him during his work-study, told OPB, “He was a hard worker, smiled easily, extremely kind and always helpful.” 

“We all will miss him at PSU.”

Martin’s family asks that those who wish to make a contribution in Lane’s memory to donate to the organization Transition Projects, an organization based in Portland that seeks to provide housing for houseless individuals.