The Hawthorne Poker?
The Hawthorne Poker? Courtesy PPB

UPDATE: The suspect who has allegedly been poking pedestrians with a thin, metal object has been identified as Justin C. Venable and has been located and arrested. From the PPB's press release:

At 5:35 p.m. on Monday, November 26, 2018, a community member contacted police reporting they had seen the suspect involved in these investigations near Southeast 34th Avenue and Southeast Belmont Street. Officers responded to the area and began to search the neighborhood for the suspect. An officer located a person matching the suspect's description near Southeast 35th Avenue and Southeast Main Street. The suspect was taken into custody without incident.

Officers also located objects believed to be the thin rigid metal rods used to poke victims. The objects were located during a search of Venable and seized as evidence.

Original post below:

According to several reports made to the Portland Police, a random dude has been walking around the Hawthorne area "poking community members with a thin, metal object." From the PPB's press release:

Based on information gathered at this time, officers have learned a suspect matching the same description was involved in the following incidents:
* Saturday, November 24, 2018, at 8:25 p.m., near Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast 35th Avenue;
* Saturday, November 24, 2018, at 11:13 p.m., near Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast 36th Avenue;
* Sunday, November 25, 2018, at 3:45 p.m., near Southeast Ankeny Street and Southeast 20th Avenue; and
* Monday, November 26, 2108, at 12:25 a.m., near Southeast Hawthorne Street and Southeast 40th Avenue

Based on information gathered at this time, the suspect approached people who were walking through the neighborhood and poked the victims, then continued walking. None of the victims reported needing medical attention after the incidents. The suspect has been identified as a 30 to 50-year-old white male, 6' to 6'2" tall, with short blond or red hair, wearing a blue jacket and black pants, carrying a black backpack, armed with a thin piece of rigid metal.

A picture of the suspected assailant is at the top of this post. Anyone having information about this person is advised to contact Officer William Green at 503-823-0344 or email him here.

In the meantime, the case of the Hawthorne Poker has captured the attention of the sleuths of Reddit, who have been busy making a map of the reported attacks, theorizing about the weapon, and even providing first hand accounts.

Here's a description of one of the first reported incidents from Reddit user thesleddog:

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I was walking westbound on Hawthorne (at about SE 34th) last night around midnight when we passed a guy headed the other direction. Without provocation he swung at my neck with a long metal object. My friend instinctively grabbed my jacket and tried to pull me her way, but he still managed to graze my neck. Dumbfounded, we turned around and watched him continue walking eastbound on Hawthorne without looking back.

And from an incident that happened later, from Reddit user cynoclast:

I was out for a run heading south on SE 20th, just south of SE Ankeny St, and saw him walking toward me on the sidewalk, I aimed left to pass him he swerved toward me angrily yelling something I couldn't hear due to having headphones in and music playing, and jabbed me in the neck just under my ear as I passed him with some shiny metal thing. It doesn't appear to be sharp, based on the lack of breaking the skin, but it sure startled me.

Again, if you think you see the suspect, please don't try to engage him. If you're being threatened, call 911—otherwise use the police non-emergency number, 503-823-3333.