PORTLAND — Michael Warren was awakened by the flashing police lights on his Northeast Portland street early Sunday.
When he ran outside to see what was wrong, he spotted from his yard a person’s body face down in the middle of Northeast Milton Street, just doors away from his home. Police had been alerted about 6:30 a.m.
At first, police told Warren they wondered if the young man had been the victim of a hit-and-run crash. Investigators from the Portland police traffic division’s Major Crash Team responded to the scene.
But a further examination revealed that the victim, identified as 17-year-old Sergio Hunt Jr., had been shot and then apparently run over by a car and left in the street, according to investigators.
He was found in the street wearing barely any clothes, his shorts pulled down, with no shoes on his feet, residents along the Argay Terrace neighborhood street said. One resident heard screeching of tires and a loud motor.
“It’s devastating,” said Hunt’s maternal grandmother, Charlotte Martin, who was accompanying her daughter Andrea Warren to a funeral home to make arrangements Thursday afternoon.
“He was only 17,” Martin said. “They took my baby’s life.”
Hunt’s mother had gone to Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct Sunday to report the teen missing, police said. Detectives eventually connected the body found on Milton Street to Hunt.
The teenager lived in Vancouver and had attended Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies his freshman and part of his sophomore year. He played basketball for the high school his freshman year but withdrew from Vancouver Public Schools during his sophomore year in February of last year, when he transferred to Evergreen School District, according to Patricia Nuzzo, a Vancouver Public Schools spokeswoman.
Hunt attended Evergreen High School remotely since Feb. 28, according to Gail T. Spolar, spokeswoman for Evergreen Public Schools.
“My baby had a big personality, a contagious smile and was a phenomenal basketball player,” his mother Andrea Warren said. Her son, she said, had played on the high school varsity team his first year at Fort Vancouver High School.
“If anybody knows anything, they need to come forward,” his mother pleaded.
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For Milton Street resident Michael Warren, the discovery of the boy’s body on his quiet, horseshoe-shaped residential road in Portland, far from any major thoroughfare, was odd and troubling.
Residents L.C. Gay and Mary Lothman said when they woke up Sunday, they noticed the body outside their homes and a large police presence. The residents said they were struck by the fact the young man barely had any clothes on, no shoes or sneakers on his feet, with a pool of blood by his head.
“It was very obvious something was not right,” Michael Warren said.
But then what Michael Warren learned in the days since was shocking.
“What became more disturbing is that he’s a distant relative,” Michael Warren said.
“I find out his mother is a Warren. My god, you have no idea,” he said. Michael Warren said his grandfather and the teen’s grandfather were cousins.
“They might as well have dropped this on my doorstep. It’s eerie,” he said.
Neighborhood residents said the teen’s body was visible in the street for a couple of hours as police investigated and waited for a deputy medical examiner to respond. Many said they were traumatized by what they saw. One woman said she wanted to bring out a blanket to cover the body but police told her they couldn’t disturb the scene until the medical examiner and detectives responded.
Other relatives and friends reacted on social media to the teenager’s killing.
“They took my lil cousin away from us!!!” wrote Wendell Williams. “We’re in so much pain & need your prayers right now…My cousin Lil Sergio didn’t deserve to die and go out like that, such a talented and beautiful soul….With so much life to live, he was going places. Loved the game of basketball so much.”
Relatives organized an online fundraiser for the family. “Sunday morning we lost a son, grandson, brother, nephew and a best friend. His life was taken at the young age of 17. Sergio Hunt was a passionate young man, who was a star athlete and his whole future in front of him,” the fundraising site organized by his relatives Jayson Hall and Brittany Hall said.
Portland police are asking the public for information that would help them solve the case and make an arrest. There have been 34 homicides in Portland so far this year. The city is on pace to record its highest number of killings in one year. At this time last year, there were four homicides in Portland.
Crime Stoppers of Oregon is offering a cash reward of up to $2,500 cash for information reported that leads to an arrest. Tips can be provided anonymously by going to the CrimeStoppers of Oregon website or after downloading P3 Tips for a cell phone or tablet.
Information can also be provided to Portland police Detective Scott Broughton at Scott.Broughton@portlandoregon.gov or (503) 823-3774 or Detective Brian Sims at Brian.Sims@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-2079.