PORTLAND, Ore. — A longtime Goose Hollow business owner said he was out on a walk near his business Thursday morning when a homeless person attacked him.
Dwayne has been walking these same streets in Northwest Portland for 25 years, around the same 12 blocks or so. He asked us not to use his last name for security reasons. He owns a business on West Burnside Street and has seen the streets - and people - change over the years as more tents pop up.
“It's just a constant harassment, I'll say, of having a business here on Burnside. You know it's Burnside but it's just gotten worse and worse,” Dwayne told KGW.
He’s never felt unsafe or threatened until Thursday morning when he was randomly attacked by a man living in a tent near a freeway off-ramp.
Dwayne says he was walking at Northwest 15th Avenue and Couch Street when he passed by a tent and some belongings on the sidewalk. He recognized the stuff because he's seen it near his business before. When Dwayne came back around to the same spot later on his walk, the person living in the tent was there and, out of no where Dwayne says he came at him.
“He was in front of me and went into where his stuff was and when I walked by he just went crazy and started swinging what looked like a bag of cans in it or whatever, hitting me with that. Then he started punching me and cussing me out and calling me all kinds of names.”
Dwayne pushed back and got away. Drivers pulled over to help him and called the police. Dwayne says police came out to look for the guy, but couldn't find him.
“It wasn't the way I wanted to start my day,” Dwayne added.
Dwayne went back to his business and called police. They gave him the option of meeting with them at that point, or calling them up when he sees the man again.
Dwayne says he felt that was the appropriate response from police, though he wishes they could do more to prevent this.
Portland police spokeswoman Lt. Tina Jones confirmed to KGW that officers checked the area, but could not locate the suspect.
“I've lived here for five years and to hear somebody was attacked came as a surprise to me,” Wesley Mahan told KGW.
Most of the homeless people he's met nearby are fine, Mahan says, but he knows many suffer with mental illness. He does hear yelling and cursing quite often, but he’s never witnessed or heard of a physical attack.
He and Dwayne both wish there was more of a safety net for those experiencing mental illness or drug addiction.
“It really makes me pause and think about what's going on and if the city is maybe doing enough to help these people,” Mahan said. “I would hope this city and the people who run this city would place a higher priority on mental health care and addiction treatment. It doesn’t seem to me like there’s very much of that.”
“When is the police going to start taking action?” Dwayne added. “It's not just downtown that it's a problem.”
KGW has reported on other random attacks in Portland recently.
This story from earlier this summer shows a homeless man punching a woman in the face in Ankeny Alley.
Other victims tell us their sense of peace in Portland is shattered.
A few hours after Thursday's attack, Dwayne was shaken up and emotionally traumatized a bit.
“I wasn't physically hurt. But definitely makes me more cautious now when I'm walking,” Dwayne said.
He is not going to stop walking.
“Because I want to feel safe in my neighborhood and I also want to know who is around my neighborhood and what's going on,” he added.
Dwayne says he may cross the street if he feels uncomfortable, but doesn’t want to change his habits and lifestyle because of the circumstances in the neighborhood.