Kara Leonard, the daughter of Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, died Sunday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after a long battle with drug abuse.
Having struggled with heroin addiction for more than a decade, officials said Leonard was trying to get her life back on track in Clark County Superior Court’s drug court program.
The 31-year-old shot herself while on an outing with her boyfriend to a recreational firing range near Larch Mountain, east of Hockinson. As the two were target shooting on L1400 Road, near Rawson Road, investigators said Leonard turned the gun — owned by her boyfriend, Ty Takaezu — on herself.
Takaezu called 911 and performed CPR as deputies and paramedics arrived. Leonard died aboard a Life Flight helicopter as she was being flown to Southwest Washington Medical Center.
Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Schanaker said the shooting does not appear to be accidental and alcohol was not involved. The investigation is “showing no indication that this is anything other than a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Schanaker said in a news release issued Monday.
Monday afternoon, Commissioner Leonard’s chief of staff characterized the woman’s death as a result of her long struggle with heroin.
“Kara was deeply loved by her family and friends who poured their hearts into helping her recover,” the commissioner’s chief of staff, Ty Kovatch, said in a statement. “Tragically, she was not able to overcome her addiction. Her family hopes that her life can help others find the inspiration they need to escape from the vicious cycle of addiction.”
In a statement, Portland Mayor Sam Adams expressed a similar sentiment: “My heart aches for my colleague and friend Randy Leonard, and for his family, who lost their oldest daughter yesterday. Randy loved his daughter deeply, and worked tirelessly to help her get the care she needed as she fought for sobriety. My thoughts and prayers are with Randy and his family at this difficult time.”
Evergreen High grad
Kara Leonard, a graduate of Evergreen High School, is survived by her 12-year-old son, Cole, who has been living with his grandmother, Randy Leonard’s first wife.
On her Twitter page, Kara Leonard described herself as “in recovery from a heroin addiction and trying to learn how to live this life, be the best girlfriend, mom, daughter, sister, friend and woman I can be.”
On Saturday afternoon, she took to Facebook to write: “No matter what (happens) to me I must stay strong, no matter what. No matter where I end up.”
Leonard was part of Clark County Superior Court’s drug court program, which she entered in October 2009 on a drug-related charge. Most offenders only spend 15 months before graduating from the program, which trades jail time for treatment on low-level offenses.
Some officials said Leonard had been struggling in the program, but she was still showing up to court.
“She’s had some ups and downs. But she was OK as far as I knew,” said Deputy Prosecutor Bob Shannon, who handles drug court cases. “I saw her just last Friday” in court.
Brad Finegood, therapeutic courts coordinator, called Leonard’s death a “tragedy.”
He could not comment on her as a client, citing federal privacy laws. But he did underscore the devastating effects of drug abuse when asked about Leonard’s death.
“Keeping sobriety and finding recovery is not an easy thing,” he said. “It’s truly a disease.”
Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516; Twitter: Col_Courts; firstname.lastname@example.org.