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News / Clark County News

Suspect in custody after shots fired at Portland airport; no injuries reported

By Amy Libby, Columbian Web Editor, and
Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: November 15, 2023, 7:07pm
2 Photos
The suspect in a shooting at Portland International Airport was arrested late Tuesday.
The suspect in a shooting at Portland International Airport was arrested late Tuesday. (Provided by Michelle Ponce) Photo Gallery

A Kennewick woman was arrested Tuesday night, accused of firing shots near a security checkpoint at Portland International Airport.

The woman exited a restroom about 11:10 p.m. near the pre-security area for the D and E gates and fired a handgun into the air, according to a statement from the Port of Portland.

Police arrested the woman, whom they identified as 47-year-old Laura Marie Patterson, and booked her into the Multnomah County Jail in Oregon. She is facing four counts of attempted first-degree murder and a slew of other weapons charges, the jail roster shows.

She is scheduled for arraignment Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, according to a court records search.

The Transportation Security Administration said Patterson did not have a ticket.

The checkpoint was closed until about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to the port.

“Passengers, employees and construction personnel were in the area and took cover, but there were no injuries sustained from the gun fire,” the port statement says.

One woman working at a nearby gate at the airport, Michelle Ponce, said she heard multiple gunshots, followed by people screaming. She said she saw people running to hide behind trash cans and leaving their luggage in the halls.

She and other employees tried to remain calm, she said, in order to not scare the already frightened travelers.

“When you wake up and go to work, you never think you will end up in that situation,” Ponce said.

Ponce has worked at the airport for nine years, she said, and she’s never experienced anything like Tuesday’s shooting.

“You feel like it’s so secure because of TSA, and there are cops at the airport all the time,” Ponce said. “It’s such an unlikely place for this to happen.”

The shooting gave her nightmares and caused her to struggle to sleep, she said.

“The image of passengers running and throwing their bags and hiding will stay in my mind forever,” Ponce said.

Port police are continuing to investigate. Anyone with information should contact Detective Cassie Hartless at 503-926-1506.