EUGENE, Ore. — After a loud explosion and a blink of an eye, police were in an out of a shopping center parking lot Thursday with a stabbing suspect in custody.
The suspect is supposedly part of one of the most violent gangs in the state. Intimidation, organized drug dealing and assaults are what the West Side Gangsters are known for, and Thursday’s startling scene in front of a Rite Aid was part of the Eugene Police Department’s strategies to combat this kind of violent crime.
Police used a non-lethal explosive, called a flash-bang, in the Rite Aid parking lot on Coburg Road to arrest the suspect.
“It allows the officers to take as much advantage as they can of the situation. Distract him, disorient him long enough that he can’t formulate a plan of a escape, and before he knows what’s happening, he’s overwhelmed and taken into custody,” said Sgt. Scott McKee, Eugene Police.
The strategy worked, and Cory Weise was detained. Police had been on Weise’s trail for awhile after they say he stabbed a man 11 times at the Good Times Bar in Eugene back in October.
“It was an extremely rabid unprovoked violent attack,” McKee said.
Police say Weise used a improvised stabbing device, similar to something one would find fabricated in prison. And it was in the prison system where Sgt. McKee believes Weise became part of the West Side Gangsters. It’s one of the most violent gangs in the state, with deep roots in Eugene.
“The West Side Gangsters started in the ’90s as a group of 12, 13, 14-year-old in the Highway 99 area of Eugene, young gang members who are referenced as being wannabes,” McKee said.
One of those founding neighborhood boys, in a group that’s now roughly 100 members strong statewide, was Beau Flynn. Police used the same impactful flash-bang tactic to arrest him in a Costco parking lot this time last year.
“When he was taken down, he was wearing full body armor and the vehicle he was operating had a handgun inside. He was in the area of a financial institution, and we thought he was planning a bank robbery,” McKee said.
Eugene police say they aren’t certain what Weise was doing in the parking lot, but it’s common for gang members to meet in places like this to talk. Weise was currently staying at a residence of Blackfoot Avenue in northwest Eugene.
Eugene police say gang activity has been a growing problem in the area in the last five years.
Experts say gangs are complex, and it starts with family, school and community issues, and that could be where the solution lies as well.
Two gang prevention symposiums have been held in Lane County this year to address community concerns by offering more alternatives for young kids to get involved and feel a sense of belonging.
“Gangs provide in some ways structure, support, rules, some of the things when our families are struggling and unable to provide them…gangs look attractive,” said John Aarons, Youth Services Assistant Manager.
Gang members in Lane County are typically between 14 and 24 years old and are white.