I go running through Laurelhurst Park pretty much every day of the week and have never felt unsafe. So news from the Portland Police about mobs of drunken teens wandering through the park assaulting people is, um, strange and surprising.
But that's exactly what the police say happened Wednesday and Thursday of this week, in what are apparently two bizarre days in the life of Laurelhurst:
On June 13 and June 14, 2012, two large-scale fights occurred in Southeast Portland's Laurelhurst Park.
On June 13, 2012, at 10:36 p.m., Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to the report of 150 drunken teenagers in Laurelhurst Park. Officers arrived in the area and contacted several groups of teens leaving the park. Officers explained that the park was closed and that they would need to leave.
As officers drove deeper into the park, they were flagged down by a young woman who directed officers to a 14-year-old male who had been beaten up in the park and was lying on a picnic table at the West end of the pond. The victim suffered facial injuries and Portland Fire & Rescue responded to treat his injuries.
The victim told officers that he was with a friend in the park when he was punched from behind and that several African American teens beat him up and stole his cell phone, iPod, headphones, and hat. Witnesses described to police that a group of 5-10 African American teens were randomly attacking white teens in the park and also attacked a male transient. No other victims came forward to speak to the police and officers did not locate additional victims.
The 14-year-old male victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment to minor facial injuries.
On June 14 at 10:26 p.m., Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to the report of a fight of more than twenty males in Laurelhurst Park. Officers arrived didn't see anyone fighting but spoke with three men who said they were attacked by a group of 20-30 African American males in their teens.
The victims, 26-year-old Wesley Vanderbrink of Lake Oswego, 23-year-old Parker Hutchins of Southeast Portland and 22-year-old Gregar Chapin of Southeast Portland, told police they were playing "soccer tennis" at the tennis courts when the lights went out and they began to leave. The lights came back on and the three started to go back to the courts and described to police that they saw a group of 20-30 African American hanging around just East of the courts. Some of the young men began throwing bottles onto the tennis courts and Chapin called out to them, "Hey!" The group of African American males then began to fight with Chapin, Vanderbrink and Hutchins.
Chapin and Vanderbrink suffered facial injuries but declined medical attention.