PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police are investigating yet another alleged anti-Asian bias crime incident after an apparent incident of road rage in the Southwest area of the city on Friday afternoon.
Police first became aware of the incident as it unfolded right in front of the Portland Police Bureau's downtown precinct on Southwest 2nd Avenue. A sergeant from the Central Precinct reported being outside when two drivers pulled up, one yelling at the other.
The sergeant reportedly called in more officers and tried to de-escalate the situation by separating the two drivers. After some discussion, the sergeant determined that one of the drivers was the victim of a bias crime, and had been menaced by the other driver with "what he thought was a gun."
Officers arrested the other driver but did not locate a gun. Meanwhile, detectives from PPB's Bias Crime Unit responded to help with the investigation.
According to PPB, the suspect was identified as Neal Hollis Walker, 54. The incident started around South Macadam Avenue and South Taylors Ferry Road, when Walker allegedly pulled up next to the victim and began harassing him about being of Asian descent "and the belief he was from China."
During the confrontation, Walker allegedly pointed a black object at the victim that made him believe it was a gun. Walker then drove off, but the victim tailed him and called 911. Both drivers ended up at PPB's Central Precinct.
Investigators later determined that the black "gun" object that Walker had used was a black plastic air hose of the kind used to inflate an air mattress. Police seized it as evidence.
Walker was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of second-degree bias crime and menacing.
Under Oregon law, bias crimes are defined as any criminal act that targets a victim based on the suspect's perception of the victim's race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or national origin. PPB said that it investigates all bias crime reports and encourages victims to contact police.
In another bias crime incident that happened last Saturday, a man identified as 34-year-old Dylan Kesterson allegedly harassed a family of Japanese descent as they were biking on Portland's Eastbank Esplanade before he physically attacked them.
Kesterson was initially released from jail shortly after booking, but was later taken back into custody after failing to appear for a court hearing.
While Kesterson had no criminal history in Oregon to speak of — contributing to his early release — Walker is somewhat of a different story. He has a litany of traffic offenses going back to 1987, with several more recent charges for driving under the influence of intoxicants. In 2015, Walker entered a no contest plea for DUII and reckless endangering in Clatsop County, and he's awaiting trial in another DUII case stemming from a charge in 2020 in Yamhill County. He's entered an initial plea of not guilty.