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‘It’s horrible’: Man attacks woman with a 34-pound rock after being released from mental health clinic

Court documents dating back to last month show 911 calls reporting the same man threatening to attack women.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A man accused of bashing a woman’s head with a large rock last week appeared in court Thursday. This was just the latest in a string of random, violent attacks on Portland's streets.

According to court documents, Dwayne Anthony Simpson, 40, had just been released from Unity Center for Behavioral Health when he allegedly attacked the woman. Police said the attack was random, but it wasn’t the first time they’ve dealt with Simpson. Court documents show 911 calls from last month reporting that Simpson had been threatening to attack women.

The attack happened on August 9, and multiple Portland police officers were called to the area outside the Unity Center in Northeast Portland.

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Court documents say that when police arrived, they found a woman covered in blood, her head bandaged. The woman told police she had been leaning against a building and saw Simpson pacing back and forth. She turned around and that’s when Simpson allegedly hit her in the head with what officers say was a 34-pound rock, roughly the size of a basketball.

“I think it’s a horrible situation,” said Gwendolyan Straughter, who lives across the street from the behavioral health center where Simpson had been staying. “There is so much crime in Portland, and it’s just a real bad scene. We have a lot of people that are not well walking around here now.”

After the woman was hit, she fell and hit her head on a concrete barrier. Witnesses told police she was on the ground, motionless for about two minutes. She was then taken to the hospital.

“My heart goes out to that woman that got hurt because I don’t like to see anybody hurt anybody,” said Straughter.

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Simpson admitted to walking up behind the victim with a rock but denied hitting her with it. Police talked with two witnesses who watched the attack happen, court documents say. Officers arrested Simpson and charged him with three felonies, including second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon. 

Just last month, police responded to two calls involving Simpson’s mental health. Court documents show that on July 24, 2022, a 911 call was made saying that Simpson was both homicidal and suicidal and wanted to kill a woman or child. Police took him to the hospital. After he was released, police responded to another call where he was screaming that he would “bash a woman’s skull in.” That time officers were unable to find him.

For those who live and work nearby, these random attacks are becoming all too common.

“I’m not surprised,” said Eoj Johnson, who works nearby. “It’s unfortunate. It’s becoming the new norm of ongoing violence. You got a lot of people that are struggling with mental health, and I think when people say they’re going to do something you should take it serious.”

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Melissa Eckstein, the president of Unity Center for Behavioral Health gave the following statement to KGW:

“We take the health and well-being of our patients seriously and find what we are seeing in our community to be distressing. The violence that occurred outside Unity Center on Aug. 9 is deeply concerning, and our thoughts are with the person who was injured in the attack ... When a person comes to Unity Center, we see them in our Psychiatric Emergency Service — our emergency department. We have seen a consistent increase in numbers over the last two years. Many individuals walk in and stay with us for less than 24 hours. About 65% of them are experiencing houselessness. Through June of this year, we have cared for more than 5,000 people in our emergency service, which is an average of almost 1,000 people a month… We will continue to advocate for the resources and support we know are greatly needed.” 

Simpson pled not guilty during his court appearance Thursday. He is due back in court on September 30.

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