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Japanese student living in Portland recognizes bias crime suspect as his attacker

A young man from Japan who is studying in Portland says he was assaulted in late June, and now he recognizes bias crime suspect Dylan Kesterson as his attacker.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Japanese student living in Portland said Dylan Kesterson, the man accused of attacking people of Asian descent in two separate incidents, also attacked him last month. 

Kaito Nakajima, 21, is halfway through a six-month stay studying at an English language school in Portland. He believes he is also a victim of Kesterson, who is facing multiple charges including hate crime, known as bias crime under Oregon law.

Nakajima said it was Kesterson who approached him near the Safeway store in downtown Portland at Southwest 10th Avenue and Jefferson Street on June 25. Nakajima said it started with yelling, then quickly escalated.

"Maybe the F-word, so dirty words, and after that I was slapped, [on] my cheek two times. My hat was stolen after that and the guy go away, somewhere. He ran off," Nakajima said.

RELATED: ‘We felt we might be killed’: Victim of alleged anti-Asian bias crime describes being punched 50 times; 5-year-old daughter hit in the head

Nakajima was wearing earbuds and said he didn't hear everything his attacker screamed at him. He also did not make a police report at the time, thinking it wasn't necessary.

But then he saw Kesterson’s picture on the news, after the attack of a Japanese family on the Eastbank Esplanade that included violent, physical assaults against a father and his five-year-old daughter.

"Me and my friends saw the guy's face, so me and my friends realized— [it was] both," he said.

Credit: KGW
Kaito Nakajima, 21, speaks to KGW in an interview on Sunday, June 17.

Nakajima said he has now talked to police over the phone and was given a report number. 

Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen confirmed to KGW that Nakajima filed a police report and spoke to an officer. He said a bias crime detective is now investigating the incident and spoke with Nakajima by phone Tuesday morning.

"If there's more people out there that have been attacked, maybe they need to know about that and know it's a bigger deal than what they already think," said Timothy Reimer, who's hosting Nakajima. 

Kesterson has not been charged with any additional crimes related to the Nakajima incident. A spokesperson for the district attorney's office did not respond to our questions.

RELATED: Oregon Rises Above Hate speaks out against anti-Asian hate crimes in Portland

Nakajima wants to continue to enjoy Portland with his friends, but said it's not as easy these days.

"I feel so afraid. If I have to go, maybe I go to downtown, but [I’m] so afraid," he said.

As for Dylan Kesterson and the crimes of hate he's accused of committing, it doesn't make sense to Nakajima. 

"So bad, so sad really because everyone, everybody is same people," he said. "So why, why I thought, why did he target Asians?"

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