Gang violence hits Pendleton

Gang violence hits Pendleton »Play Video
PENDLETON, OR.- Meet Michael Mason, he might not appear that threatening, but Mason was recently caught with a loaded sawed-off shotgun.

Mason claims to be a part of an Aryan gang, European Kindred, a gang focused on white supremacy. Police tell KEPR Mason -- is just one of many now threatening the community.

"The individuals are typically unpredictable because of their dependency on drugs, alcohol, also some of the mindsets some have are individuals that are enamored with white supremacist ideology," said Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts.

Also known as E-K -- the gang started more than a decade ago at Snake River Correctional Institution. Since then, it's spread throughout Oregon and into Pendleton. Police say those claiming to be in the E-K are growing and becoming more violent. Members are blamed for break-ins to homes and storage units all over town -- looking for weapons.

"It is a situation where they are slowly, but surely, becoming more and more brazen with their activities," said Chief Roberts.

Vince Sapienza explains, "when it comes to these types of offenders, police say the hard part is not putting them in jail, it's keeping them there. Oregon State Law gives police a 36 hour window to prosecute such offenders, otherwise they are released back into the general public."

"Most of them know they have pending charges that may or may not send them to the institution, so in their mind they have nothing to lose," said Chief Roberts.

There are 23 officers in the Pendleton Police Department -- the same as they had back in the late 60's. The population has grown slightly -- but the opportunity for crime keeps increasing. Police set up security cameras both as a way to monitor the city -- and to deter future crime -- right from the police station.

"We want them to know, we know," says Chief Roberts.

So the Michael Mason's of the world -- will be warned.