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Anthony Mcdowell

Gresham, Oregon, USA

U.S. Army

SSG, Army Reserves, 671st Engineer Company

01/30/2011, Gresham, Oregon, USA

Family and friends gathered Monday under an iron-gray sky at Willamette National Cemetery to honor Anthony McDowell, a military veteran who was shot to death by Gresham police last week outside his home. They grieved, but they also wondered: How did it come to this? How could a man so dedicated to his community and fellow soldiers die such a violent death at the hands of police officers?

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions,” said Sharon Brunner, a friend who was waiting for the funeral procession at the cemetery.

McDowell, 50, was holding a rifle when he was killed on Jan. 31 during an encounter with officers. The Gresham Police Department said in the immediate aftermath of the shooting that officers were dispatched to the house after McDowell’s wife called to report that he was suicidal. A full account of the shooting has not been released. But McDowell’s family said in a statement that he was holding the rifle over his head when he was shot and didn’t know police were outside his house. Two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated. The case was expected to go before a Multnomah County grand jury. The nature of McDowell’s death was a backdrop for his funeral and the burial that followed. But it was his life that mourners came to celebrate.

At the start of the funeral at Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Chaplain Mike Friend surveyed the mourners on the gymnasium floor.

“This is a good-sized crowd,” Friend said. “That’s a testament to Anthony McDowell.”

McDowell was remembered as a devoted father, husband and a “patriot.”

He had been in the Navy and the Army Reserve and served in Iraq. He was also the founder of a nonprofit that aids veterans called Sergeant McDowell’s Military Relief. His friends called him “Sarge.” McDowell raised money to help veterans and their families. He threw Christmas parties. He bought gifts for children. And he helped soldiers who’d recently returned from war in their efforts to re-engage with society. Sometimes, friends have said, money for Sergeant McDowell’s Military Relief came out of Anthony McDowell’s pocket.

“He bent over backward in helping those soldiers,” said Kenneth Claiborne, one of the mourners who said he knew McDowell through the military.

After the funeral service at the church, the long, slow procession of cars and motorcycles made its way through the winding roads of the cemetery. When the procession stopped, six young soldiers escorted McDowell’s flag-draped casket from the hearse. A horn played taps. McDowell’s family was given the flag from his casket. And then, about the time the casket was taken to be buried, the sun came out.


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