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Irish Voice News
Cops Kill Irishman in Oregon
July 10, 2008
By April Drew
THE body of an Irishman with a history of mental illness who was shot dead by a police officer on Monday, June 30 in Oregon will be brought back to Ireland for cremation in the coming days.
Andrew Hanlon, 20 and originally from Dundrum, Co. Dublin, was shot seven times according to his sister, after police were called to what was assumed a burglary in the small town of Silverton in Oregon.
A press release from Marion County Police Department stated, “During the encounter,” in which police received a 911 call from a local resident reporting a burglary, “Silverton police officer, Tony Gonzalez, ended up shooting Andrew Hanlon, who expired at the scene.”
Police in Silverton told the Irish Voice they could not comment on the case or provide any information about the shooting until an investigation by the district attorney’s office is finished and a grand jury has heard and reviewed the case.
Hanlon’s sister, Melanie Heise, who lives in Silverton with her husband Nathan, said her brother suffered from a slight psychological problem but that he was fine prior to the shooting.
She said Hanlon, an aspiring artist, wanted to return to Ireland after developing mental health problems but instead he remained in the U.S.
Gonzales, a member of the Marion County Police Department for less than two years, has been put on administrative leave for the time being, a routine procedure during an officer involved in a shooting. Rick Lewis, chief of police in Silverton, said that Gonzalez will receive counseling.
“The officer has experienced a very traumatic incident as well. The taking of a life is very difficult to deal with emotionally,” he said.
An audio recording, titled “On the scene, an unbiased approach,” was slipped into Hanlon’s sister’s mailbox last Friday, July 4.
The voice, a woman’s, claims to have witnessed the shooting. She said she was a relative of the woman who called the police after Hanlon began frantically banging on her relative’s front door at 11 p.m. on June 30.
She said that her relation believed her home was being burgled and dialed 911 and then called her husband. The husband arrived with his friend and apparently chased Hanlon away.
She stated that Gonzales arrived moments later and met the Dublin man running down the street. She said that Hanlon tripped at the bottom of the hill and when he was trying to get up, Gonzales opened fire.
During the recording, which was on a CD, the witness said she heard Gonzales tell Hanlon to “Get down, get down” and “Do you want me to shoot you?”
The recording confirms Hanlon’s family’s belief that the young man was on his way back to his sister’s house when he got lost and disorientated. The street where he was shot was six blocks from his sister’s house.
Hanlon’s brother-in-law Nathan said that Hanlon had a habit of banging on their front door when he wanted to be let in. He believes that Hanlon was confused and mistakenly went to the wrong house.
Friends of Hanlon told a Chester County paper on Monday that they were with Hanlon 20 minutes before he died. “He was looking for his shirt,” Samantha True said.
After retrieving his shirt, his friends said he “stormed off.”
Hanlon’s sister was not informed until 5 a.m. that her brother had been shot.
“It took them six hours to contact me to tell me my brother was dead even though he was killed less than a mile down the street,” she told reporters last week.
Hanlon’s brother-in-law told the press last Thursday that he and his wife viewed the body and there appeared to be seven bullet wounds on the body — two wounds on his left arm, three on his abdomen, one on his thigh and one in the back of his shoulder.
Since the shooting, hundreds of people, including friends of Hanlon and his sister, have protested outside the police station in the small town of Silverton expressing their anger over Hanlon’s death.
Hanlon lived with his mother Dorothea Hanlon-Carroll in the South of France before coming to the U.S. less than a year ago. Hanlon-Carroll told RTE radio last week that she was frustrated and angry at authorities in Oregon.
“We’re not getting any answers because they closed ranks on us. As his mom, I’m being kept out of the loop. Nobody’s telling me anything,” she said.
Hanlon’s father, who lives in Texas, arrived in Oregon last week to help make arrangements to bring Hanlon’s body back to Ireland to be cremated as he wished.
“Andrew is fully embalmed now, so we are hoping his body could be in Ireland next weekend. He would like that — he liked it here, but home is home,” his sister told reporters.
It is expected that she will return to Oregon after her brother’s funeral with half of his ashes.
Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin expressed his condolences to the Hanlon family. In a press release issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, it was noted that the Irish Consulate in San Francisco registered concern over the killing.
“The department has maintained very close contact with Andrew’s family in Oregon and Ireland and has kept them fully informed of all relevant information as we became aware of it. This close liaison will continue. However, the full circumstances of the shooting are unlikely to be known until the investigation by the U.S. authorities is completed,” the press release stated.
The Irish consul general in San Francisco Emer Deane traveled to Oregon to assist the Hanlon family.
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