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Roving thugs leave a trail of crime victims
Police arrest five young men after a series of early morning muggings in downtown Portland
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Jonathon Fahlberg of London was walking back to his friend's apartment after leaving a downtown bar just after midnight Tuesday when he spotted a "rough-looking" group of men headed in his direction.
Fahlberg veered off West Burnside Street into the North Park Blocks to avoid them. But the group followed. They ordered him to empty his pockets. When he handed them a $10 bill, they began punching and kicking him. One struck him repeatedly with a padlock hanging from a long chain. His cries brought help from passers-by.
"They just attacked me for no bloody reason," said Fahlberg, who was on his first visit to the United States in four years. "I honestly feel if those people didn't come, they would have killed me."
Portland police said Fahlberg was one of at least six people who were robbed and assaulted by a group of young men accused of going on a wild, three-hour crime spree in Old Town and downtown between 12:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. Tuesday. Detectives said the five suspects, ages 16 to 20, randomly attacked and robbed men. They wore dark hooded sweaters, hockey masks and were armed with chains and knives.
One victim was stabbed in the back and hospitalized with a punctured lung. Two other victims were forced to jump into the Willamette River. One had two front teeth knocked out.
The accused, who were stopped by Central Precinct officers at gunpoint midspan on the Burnside Bridge about 3 a.m. Tuesday, all told police they were "transient" and had street names such as "Shadow," "Twister" and "Hey You."
They were hunting for money and marijuana, they told investigators.
But police said they simply were looking for trouble.
"It seems like they were just demonstrating their authority over the weak and helpless," said robbery Sgt. John Cordell.
The 9-1-1 calls started coming in just after midnight Monday, sending most Central Precinct officers on the graveyard shift responding to robberies that appeared to be committed by the same group of young thugs.
"If you get bands of roving folks committing crimes, the goal is to intercept them as quickly as you can and arrest them," Central Precinct Cmdr. Dave Benson said. "These guys were pretty elusive for awhile before we could catch up with them. They were up to no good."
At 12:45 a.m., police found 42-year-old David Maslowsky, who was robbed at Northwest Broadway and Flanders Street. He said one man asked him for a dollar.
"I told them I had no money. The other guys came up around me and started punching me," he said.
They knocked him to the ground. He lost two front teeth.
" I lost teeth, my pride and got bumps and bruises," Maslowsky said.
At 1:30 a.m., police were sent to Northwest Sixth Avenue and Irving Street. A 48-year-old man asleep in a sleeping bag was rousted by a man who demanded money, he told police. Two men hovered over him until he pulled out the only cash he had, a $5 bill. They also snatched his watch from his wrist and ran off.
Around 2:52 a.m., Leonard Patton Ellis, 27, was attacked near the MAX stop by Skidmore Fountain.
"There were two groups of guys. One said, 'Hey, gotta dollar to spare?' I told them, 'No man, I'm broke,' " Ellis said.
Five men crowded around Ellis; one swung a chain with a padlock at him.
"I grabbed onto it. The whole time I'm pretty much playing tug-of-war," Ellis said.
Then, Ellis felt sharp pain. He was stabbed three times in the back and in his right arm. He spoke Wednesday from a bed at OHSU Hospital, where he was being treated for a punctured lung.
"All this time, I lived here in Portland, I never had much of a problem. This came out of nowhere," said Ellis, of Southeast Portland. "They knew I was broke. They just wanted to cause pain."
At 2:53 a.m., police were sent to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Two men, ages 25 and 37, said they were attacked by two guys wearing hockey-style masks, robbed and then pushed into the Willamette River. The 37-year-old's ATM card and Oregon Trail card were taken. The 25-year-old said they stole $5 and his Oregon Trail card.
Police arrested Anthony Ray Mondrut, 15; Victor Paul Bradley, 19; Michael Edward Palmer, 20; Pierre Donye Bass, 18; and Robert Anthony Irizarry, 18. They are accused of five counts of first-degree robbery, one count of second-degree robbery assault and kidnapping.
One of the accused was found with wet drops of blood on his shoes. Another was wearing the wristwatch he had taken from the man sleeping in the North Park Blocks, police said.
Investigators suspect there were other victims who have not come forward.
It's not clear whether the accused consider themselves part of a "street family," as young suspects in recent violent crimes downtown have.
For Fahlberg, who will be returning to London later this month, the encounter was disturbing. He described how he pulled his jacket over his head to shield himself from the blows. Knocked to the ground, he screamed, "Fire!" to get someone's attention. Three people approached, and his attackers scattered after stealing his passport and $52.
"It's like they were out to just cause physical violence," he said. "I think it's pretty sick."
Police ask anyone with information to call 503-823-0400.
Maxine Bernstein: 503-221-8212; email@example.com
Another reason not to be walking around downtown late at night to me.
to bad one of the good guys didnt have a gun and pop a few of the idoits that were muggin people, that would make the ones that survived think twice next time.