Man arrested for assaulting couple at Poet's Beach

Police: Homeless man attacks couple at beach

PORTLAND, Ore. — Police responding to a report of a disturbance at a motel in southeast Portland early Monday morning arrested a suspect in the assault of a couple at Poet's Beach in Portland in July.

Police arrived at the Best Value Inn at 3310 Southeast 82nd Avenue at about 2:33 a.m. Monday and found 34-year-old Jonathan T. Rance at the scene. Officers recognized him as the suspect in the Poet's Beach assault and arrested him.

After detectives interviewed Rance, he was lodged in the Multnomah County Jail. He faces multiple charges, including two counts of second-degree assault and one count each of second-degree criminal mischief and interfering with making a report.

The couple was assaulted by a homeless man, alleged to be Rance, on Tuesday, July 25, at Poet’s Beach in Portland.

Officers learned that about two hours prior to the attack, a husband and wife were walking their dog along the recently opened swimming beach when they encountered a homeless couple at a camp on nearby OHSU property. The two couples exchanged pleasantries and initially there were no problems, according to Portland police.

The homeless couple later expressed anger that the other couple’s dog was off-leash and playing in the water. That’s when at around 4:45 p.m. the homeless man went into the tent, came out with an “asp-like metal baton” and attacked the couple, police said. The man then fled.

The couple went to a Portland hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Officers spoke with the woman who lives in the tent.

Poet’s Beach opened on July 12 as the city's first designated swim area on the Willamette River. Only service dogs are allowed at the beach, according to the Portland Parks & Recreation.

"Opening Poet's Beach, providing access to the river to the public, is a priority for this mayor," said Ted Wheeler's spokesman Michael Cox. "He was to reconnect the city with its river. It's the cleanest it's ever been and to have an event like this so close to its opening is very concerning."

Cox said there will be an increased ranger and police presence at the beach.

"We want the people of Portland to know that the safety around public access to the river is of paramount importance to us and we'll make sure this public beach is safe."

According to the city website, there will be no lifeguards or staff watching over the beach on Thursday.

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to contact Detective Tony Harris at 503-823-0400.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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