Portland’s police department is struggling to keep up amid an acute staffing shortage and budget cuts.

 It was nearly last call on a Friday when Jacob Eli Knight Vasquez went to get a drink across the street from the tavern where he worked in northwest Portland — an area with a thriving dining scene, where citygoers enjoy laid-back eateries, international cuisines and cozy cafés. The AP reports on the city’s dark side.

The 34-year-old had been at the pizza bar only a short time when shots rang out. Vasquez was struck by a stray bullet and died at the scene.

His killing in late September was one of the 67 homicides this year in Portland — a city on pace to shatter its previous record of 66 slayings in 1987.

Fear and frustration with gang violence have settled over the metropolis, as stories like Vasquez’s make some wary to go out at night. Unlike previous years, more bystanders are being caught in the crossfire — from people mourning at vigils and sitting in cars to children playing in a park.

“People should be leery because this is a dangerous time,” said Lionel Irving Jr., a lifelong Portland resident and a gang outreach worker.

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