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PNCA Arthouse Hit by Gunfire at Start of Winter Break

Gia Patel

Staff Writer

PNCA's Arthouse building. Photo from the PNCA website

The ArtHouse Residential building located near the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) campus was caught in the crossfire of a shooting on Dec 17, 2022. Two residential windows were hit, with one of the residents being inside when the bullet struck their window. Additional bullets from the shooting hit the first floor of the building as well. The shooting occurred in a city park across the street from the residential building, and there is no evidence that points to the ArtHouse being the target for this incident. This is not the first incident with Arthouse, as it was hit with gunfire over fall break 2021.

M Powell , the area coordinator of the ArtHouse building, was in their room when one of the stray bullets hit the window next to their bedroom, and explained their experience and the response PNCA had to the shooting. “Police were on the scene really quick,” they said. “Luz [RA on duty] and I went through with the police, looking for any evidence like the bullets. We taped up both of the windows just to hold them together as best as we could.”

Powell specified that they wanted to make “sure we [them and Luz] were there the next morning for anybody that wanted to talk to us, for anybody that wanted to ask questions and process what had happened. It was move-out day, so it was really tough timing to try and hold any collective space, but we just offered that space and at the very least offered donuts. We also offered to hold conversation space for students when they came back.” After the ArtHouse shooting, Powell emphasized that PNCA would be increasing its mental health resourcing presence on the campus, stating “ we are now going to have somebody eight to five on PNCA’s campus, like at a counselor Monday through Friday. And that was not the case before.”

Powell highlighted the importance of counseling and therapy during these critical times for recovery saying, “I still feel some anxiety in my body about it. I'm working out with a counselor that I'm seeing myself through our employee assistance program, and I encourage others to do the same.”

When asked if Powell anticipated a similar incident happening again, Powell responded, “I think it very well could, we are in a really urban area and there's a lot of stuff that goes on at night.” The new Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management, Andrew Fresh, had a very similar response when asked if PNCA anticipated a similar circumstance. “ It is in an urban environment of downtown Portland, and unfortunately we face the same problems as any urban city here in the US, with those random acts of violence. There was nothing upon reviewing this incident that we could have done differently to prevent or mitigate that incident.”

Fresh, who has been in his position for about 90 days, brought to light that the ArtHouse building is leased through private companies for residential housing purposes, which could account for any delays in the security process. He also expands on the counseling events that were staged after winter break, saying “we actually staged, on the first-day people came back, a social at ArtHouse and campus safety, as well as administrators from PNCA there in the lobby, to welcome students and confront any issues or answer any questions.” He goes on to say that “to just anyone that was affected by this, we are offering up counseling services and such through Bishop.”

However, these narratives contrast the ones sent to The Collegian anonymously, as the tip states “The day it happened, I reached out to the PNCA dean's office asking what would be done to improve student safety, calling the email urgent. I only got a response 11 days later after I emailed again saying their response would determine whether I return for another semester.” The tip continues on, saying there was little to no communication from PNCA about the incident to students who were not directly involved. A similar incident occurred during fall 2021 over thanksgiving break, when the ArtHouse was caught in a similar crossfire, which the tip emphasizes as well. Overall, both Fresh and Powell stress that they and PNCA are extremely concerned with student safety and continuously hope to provide resources for students and faculty that were impacted by the shooting.

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