Woman Arrested For Arson And Menacing After Damaging Cars And Setting Fire To Vehicle

A woman is facing serious charges after allegedly stabbing two occupied cars with a knife and then setting an unoccupied vehicle on fire. The incident took place on Thursday, May 9, 2024, in the vicinity of Southwest Barbur Boulevard at Southwest 26th Avenue.

At approximately 12:14 p.m., Portland Police officers from Central Precinct responded to reports of a woman running in traffic with a knife. Upon arrival, officers located the suspect, later identified as Elishama M. Mathews, on Southwest Spring Garden Street at Southwest Barbur Boulevard. Mathews was walking away from the officers, exhibiting signs of a mental health crisis.

To de-escalate the situation and ensure a safe resolution, an Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team (ECIT) officer was called in to assist with communication. Through their efforts, the officers successfully convinced Mathews to discard the knife and surrender peacefully. During the incident, officers received a separate report of a vehicle fully engulfed in flames on the 8700 block of Southwest 26th Way, just south of Southwest Spring Garden Street. Portland Fire & Rescue promptly responded to the scene and extinguished the fire.

Upon further investigation, it was determined that Mathews had used the knife to stab two passing vehicles, resulting in dents and scratches. Shortly before the arrival of the police, she proceeded to set the parked vehicle on fire. Fortunately, no injuries were reported in connection with the incident.

The Portland Fire Investigations Unit was called to the scene to conduct a thorough investigation into the arson. Elishama M. Mathews, 42, was subsequently taken into custody and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. She is facing charges of Arson in the Second Degree, Menacing (2 counts), and Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (2 counts).

The Portland Fire Investigations Unit comprises specially trained fire investigators from Portland Fire & Rescue, who are also sworn law enforcement officers, along with a detective from the Portland Police Bureau. This collaboration allows for a comprehensive and specialized approach to investigating fires, utilizing advanced analysis equipment and accelerant detecting dogs.

In response to crisis calls, all officers of the Portland Police Bureau receive basic Crisis Intervention Training, including annual refresher courses. Additionally, the Bureau has established the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team (ECIT), which consists of volunteer officers from various patrol assignments. These specially trained officers are dispatched to crisis calls involving individuals in crisis and possess the skills to de-escalate situations and connect individuals with appropriate community resources.