Government & Politics

Man with KC ties arrested with ‘arsenal’ while watching Oregon police

Weapons and ammunition seized from Eric Eugene Crowl’s vehicle.
Weapons and ammunition seized from Eric Eugene Crowl’s vehicle. Courtesy of Portland Police Bureau

A man with apparent ties to Kansas City has been arrested in Oregon after police said they found a cache of weapons and ammunition in his vehicle across the street from a police building.

Police said Eric Eugene Crowl had been monitoring the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct office for months.

Crowl was booked into the Multnomah County jail late Monday on charges of attempted assault of a public safety officer, unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm, Sgt. Pete Simpson said in a news release.

Crowl, 39, is being held with bond set at $1 million.

Property and court records show Crowl has lived in Kansas City and Manhattan, Kan., in recent years. A Facebook page containing photos that look like the man police arrested says Kansas City is his home town. The page also contains a photo of the U.S. Constitution that was posted June 30.

Portland police said that in one traffic stop, officers noted that Crowl was a “self-proclaimed Constitutionalist.” That term is often associated with patriot and militia groups and sovereign citizens.

Portland has been the site of escalated anti-government activity since a standoff earlier this year at an Oregon wildlife refuge led by a group of armed occupiers, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy. They and others are being held in federal custody in Portland.

After Gavin Eugene Long, 29, of Kansas City, ambushed officers in Baton Rouge, La., in July, shooting to death three and injuring three others, domestic terrorism experts said a new crop of extremists seems to be turning directly to violence instead of inundating the court system with bogus legal paperwork.

Although experts said Long’s sovereign beliefs may not have been his main motivation in the attacks, he had filed sovereign citizen documents in Kansas City and was carrying a sovereign-related card at the time of the attack.

The Kansas City Star published a series on domestic terrorism last year.

In Portland, police said they started noticing Crowl parking outside the East Precinct in April in a gray Chevrolet Tahoe, filming officers and watching as they came and went during shift changes. In one traffic stop, police said, he had a police scanner in the vehicle.

According to the news release, an East Precinct sergeant noticed about 2:50 p.m. Sunday that Crowl was parked across the street again. The sergeant made a request over the police radio for officers to contact Crowl. When that transmission went out, Crowl drove away.

He was stopped for a traffic violation shortly after that, police said. Officers saw no weapons in the vehicle at that time.

Crowl returned to the East Precinct around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, police said, and again appeared to be surveying the building at shift change.

“Due to heightened concerns about police ambush attacks after the recent incidents in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La., officers contacted Crowl, concerned about his actions,” Simpson said in the news release. “As officers approached Crowl, ordering him to keep his hands up, he would raise and lower his hands and appeared to be reaching around inside his vehicle.”

Officers found no weapons on Crowl when he got out of the vehicle, the news release said. However, it said, “officers looked through the rear window of the Tahoe and could observe an arsenal of weapons and ammunition.”

Police seized numerous items from the vehicle, including a 5.56 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, two 9 mm handguns, 100 rounds of 5.56 and 9 mm rounds of ammunition, 5.56 tracer rounds, handheld radios, a police scanner, camouflage clothing and camping gear.

After obtaining a search warrant for Crowl’s Portland residence, investigators found eight more rifles, a shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, the news release said.

According to corporate records, Crowl operated a business in Oregon called Advanced Target Identification and Engagement Systems Inc. The company, with an address of Timber, Ore., was formed in 2010 and dissolved in late 2013. The incorporation documents say the business was involved in “staffing, technology and creative services.”

Crowl owned property in Oregon and married an Oregon woman in June 2015, according to her Facebook page and an online wedding registry.

Judy L. Thomas: 816-234-4334, @judylthomas