WILSONVILLE, Ore. — An assault and robbery of a transgender man is being investigated as a bias crime after deputies from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) pulled the victim from the Willamette River at Boone's Ferry Park in Wilsonville on Tuesday.
The victim told sheriff's office deputies that three teenage boys called him a transgender slur, attacked him and stole his iPhone. During the attack, the victim was either knocked into the river or jumped into the river and was able to swim away, deputies said.
The three suspects fled with the stolen phone. Deputies are asking the public to help them identify and locate the suspects.
"There’s really no place for this type of behavior," said CCSO Sgt. Marcus Mendoza. "That's why we have the laws in place to hold these offenders accountable. We're really seeking the public’s help to identify them and help bring them to justice."
At about 5:47 p.m., a 911 caller said a man was yelling for help along the riverbank, across from Boones Ferry Boat Launch in the area of the park.
When deputies arrived, they found the victim clinging to driftwood along the side of the river, possibly stuck in mud near the bank. The victim said he'd been yelling for help for a couple hours.
The man was suffering from injuries to his face, arms and legs. Deputies, concerned that the victim had hypothermia, called medics out to help him.
The victim told deputies he first saw the three suspects along a path leading to the river, at which point one of the teens directed a transgender slur at him. A short time later, the victim was sitting on a log near the river, eating, when he was approached by the three suspects, who asked if he had any alcohol. The suspects approached the victim a third time about 45 minutes later, at which point detectives say one of the suspects punched the victim at least twice in the face and nose.
"He was either knocked into the river or jumped into the river, but he reported to us that he felt he needed to get away from this attack," said CCSO Sgt. Marcus Mendoza. "So what that tells me is that this attack was serious enough that he felt his best option was to swim away."
Based on the transgender slur and the violence that followed, the sheriff’s office is investigating this as a bias crime.
"Based on the victim's statements and the actions of the suspects, it is being investigated as a bias crime," Mendoza said. "It appears to meet the statute as it was reported."
Police released limited descriptions of the suspects:
- Suspect 1 is described as a white male, late teens, approximately 5'8" tall with chin-length brown hair.
- Suspect 2 is described as a white male, late teens, approximately 5'8" tall, with short spiked hair.
- Suspect 3 (no composite sketch) is described as a white male, late teens, approximately 5'10" tall and blonde hair.
On Thursday afternoon, police also released composite sketches of two of them.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office Tip Line at 503-723-4949 or by filling out the online email form. Please reference CCSO Case No. 20-014116.