A black Portland family says they were accosted in Northeast Portland this week by a cyclist who used a racial slur as he shot pepper spray at three children.
The incident near NE Killingsworth and 9th, details of which have been circulating on social media, was officially confirmed this morning by the Portland Police Bureau in a news release.
The bureau would not release a police report on the incident, citing an open investigation, but says Patricia Garner, 62, and her daughter Foia Frazer, 32, were getting Frazer's 12, 11, and 7-year-old kids in the car on Tuesday when a white or Hispanic man on a bike rolled past.
"The suspect turned around northbound, riding back by the car and sprayed the kids with pepper spray," the release says. "Garner reported to police that the man yelled a racial epithet at them as he pepper sprayed the kids then rode away."
The children were treated at the scene.
The release continues: "The victims described the suspect as a white or Hispanic male in his mid-20s, 5'9" tall, 160 pounds, wearing black spandex-style bicycle clothing and a grey and black helmet. The suspect was riding a road-style bicycle (not a mountain bike), with a white box on the back of the bicycle."
After the incident, Frazer apparently found the white box that had been on the man's bike, but police say it "contained various tools but no identifying information."
Update, 1:45 pm: Neighbor Laurel Carrasco tells the Mercury that one of the children, a 12-year-old boy, was in fact transported to the hospital after the assault.
"The fumes coming off the child were enough to choke one of the doctors," says Carrasco, who said both Frazer and Garner told her about the incident. "He had to have several milk cloths put on him and eventually had to be sedated."
Carrasco is also stressing that the family says there was not a verbal altercation the led up to the assault. "He said, 'How are you guys doing?' One of them said, 'Fine,'" Carrasco says. "These are kids who were just loaded up into the car at their grandma's house."
Police spokesperson Sgt. Pete Simpson says he can't confirm a child didn't go to the hospital, only that he didn't travel there by ambulance, according to the police report.
"He may have gone," Simpson says. He adds that cops are trying to learn more about the moments ahead of the incident.
"We want to know more about the interaction to the extent there was an interaction between the suspect and kids," Simpson says.
Just got sent this from Portland, Oregon.
They are distraught. The kids had to be hospitalized. pic.twitter.com/QSu68j6qUP
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 15, 2016
Police are treating the report as a "bias crime," the same class of crime prosecutors filed this week against a white supremacist gang member who ran down a black teen in Gresham on August 10.
Hit the jump for the police bureau's full release.
On Tuesday September 13, 2016, at 9:16 p.m., North Precinct officers responded to a residence in the 5500 block of Northeast 9th Avenue on the report that several children were pepper sprayed by an unknown male riding a bicycle.
Officers and medical personnel arrived and treated the three male victims, ages 12, 11 and 7, for exposure to pepper spray. None of the victims required transport by ambulance to a hospital and were treated at the scene by medical personnel.
Police spoke with 62-year-old Patricia Garner and her daughter 32-year-old Foia Frazer, the grandmother and mother of the three victims.
Garner and Frazier told officers that they were getting the kids into the car as a man on a bicycle rode by southbound on 9th Avenue. The suspect turned around northbound, riding back by the car and sprayed the kids with pepper spray. Garner reported to police that the man yelled a racial epithet at them as he pepper sprayed the kids then rode away. The three victims, as well as Garner and Frazier, are African American.
The victims described the suspect as a white or Hispanic male in his mid-20s, 5'9" tall, 160 pounds, wearing black spandex-style bicycle clothing and a grey and black helmet. The suspect was riding a road-style bicycle (not a mountain bike), with a white box on the back of the bicycle.
Officers searched the neighborhood but did not locate anyone matching the suspect's description. Frazier found the white box in the neighborhood and turned it over to police. The box contained various tools but no identifying information.
Due to the nature of the report, a detective assigned to investigate Bias Crimes is conducting the investigation.
Anyone with information about this incident or the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Detective Jeff Sharp at 503-823-9773, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bias crimes are defined as any criminal act that targets a victim based on the suspect's perception of the victim's race, color, religion, national origin or sexual orientation.
The Portland Police Bureau investigates all reported incidents of bias crimes and encourages any member of our community who is the victim of such a crime to contact law enforcement.
If you have been the victim of a bias crime assault, immediately call 9-1-1. If you have been the victim of a bias crime, such as vandalism or graffiti, please call the non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.
To learn more about bias crime investigations, please visit http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/423009