Garion Frankel August 1, 2021 at 1:05pm
Someone considered to be a pillar of the community one day can become a pariah the next.
In the case of 27-year-old Tyson Morlock, they also could end up dead as a result of an apparent meth dispute.
Morlock, who had been living in homeless camps in Delta Park, a public municipal complex in north Portland, Oregon, became an internet celebrity when he cobbled together a swimming pool on June 30 during a heat wave in the area.
He was able to create the makeshift watering hole by hooking an inflatable pool to a nearby fire hydrant, keeping the homeless cool during the sweltering days.
Climate change and inequality: Tyson Morlock hooked up a pool to a fire hydrant under an overpass in Portland where temperatures reached 116°F (46°C)
“There’s not a lot of places you can go in the community where you can be safe.”
For @Reuters pic.twitter.com/bdorvsu6I0
— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) June 30, 2021
Such an action is to be commended. Nobody, no matter their crimes or ailments, should be forced to suffer in 116-degree heat. I’m from Texas, and that’s absurd even for us.
But Morlock was stabbed to death shortly afterward, according to a prosecutor’s report, and a grand jury is not pressing charges in the killing.
According to KOIN-TV, a dispute at the homeless camp arose over some missing items, and Morlock, as well as his friend, Mark Corwin, were in the middle of it.
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The missing item causing the most fervor was a quarter-pound of meth, according to a prosecutor’s report obtained by the Portland Tribune and analyzed by KOIN.
Corwin accused Morlock of being the thief. This accusation sent Morlock into a rage, and he grabbed large tent poles before charging at Corwin, per the report. Corwin tumbled down a nearby embankment and continued to flee.
“Corwin continued to run away and (Morlock) chased after him, threatening to kill him, brandishing the metal tent poles,” deputy district attorney Amber Kinney wrote. “Corwin said he was terrified, (while Morlock) was erratic and unpredictable.”
After about two blocks, Corwin realized he could not outrun Morlock and stopped the chase. As Morlock charged him with the tent poles, Corwin said he drew a knife and stabbed Morlock in the torso, according to the report.
As soon as the immediate threat was over, Corwin took off his shirt, applied it to Morlock’s wound and called 911, the report said. Morlock died shortly afterward, on July 1, at a nearby hospital.
“(Corwin told 911) he stabbed the victim, but had no choice,” the report said. “Corwin sounded distraught.”
The report also noted that Corwin was fully cooperative with the investigation.
Several other campers corroborated Corwin’s story and, deeming his self-defense claim to be valid, a grand jury declined to press charges against him. However, Morlock’s mother, Randi Shelton, is considering a lawsuit, according to KOIN.
This incident was tragic, and I hope Corwin will be all right. Killing someone in self-defense is morally and legally justifiable, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I hope he is able to get whatever assistance he needs.
The incident, however, does highlight how dangerous these public homeless camps are. Cities should be focused on cleaning up the streets, not playing with progressive policy priorities that have no basis in reality.
Portland has a lot of work to do, but unfortunately, its leadership and citizenry are not up to the task.