Normally, getting caught tagging would earn you some community service hours or maybe a small fine. But last week, it landed one unlucky artist in the intensive care unit with multiple injuries--including a possible spinal fracture--after one storeowner decided to take policing into his own hands.

Late last Saturday night, Rafael Fauria, a young tagger, was making his mark on a martial arts studio near SE 2nd and Oak. Probably not the best choice--especially considering that the studio owner is martial arts expert and was hanging out at the store at the time. The owner rushed outside and, according to witnesses, showed off some wicked moves. For several moments, they scuffled, with the spray-paint artist on the losing side. Eventually, Fauria broke free and attempted to flee. But the fight continued, roaming over several blocks, before finally ended up outside two packed bars on Grand Avenue. There, the martial artist grabbed and held the graffiti artist.

That's when matters took a turn for the worse when the tagger was hit by a speeding car. What happened next depends on who you talk to: Some say the tagger tried to break free and run again; others say the martial artist pushed the tagger into oncoming traffic.

As the driver fled the scene, customers at the nearby Slow Bar and My Father's Place spilled into the streets. But according to at least one witness, the collision was so gruesome that many simply stayed inside; most assumed the victim was dead.

But Fauria survived. He was rushed to OHSU, where he remained a week later, recovering from fractures to his wrist, pelvis, and spine.

"It's bullshit this happened just because the kid was tagging," one witness told the Mercury. So far, the only person arrested has been the driver of the car that struck Rafael Fauria; she was later tracked down and charged with a felony DUI and hit and run. An investigation is ongoing.

This Thursday, the Mercury News Department launches its blog: Politik PDX. Jump online to read catty comments about local politicians and catch updates on breaking stories. Hit and click on "Classifieds." Then follow the links to "Blog Town, USA."