Man on bike pepper sprays three children in Portland, police say

Portland police said a man on a bike pepper-sprayed three innocent children in northeast Portland on Tuesday evening. (KPTV)

Portland police said a man on a bike pepper-sprayed three innocent children in northeast Portland on Tuesday evening. (KPTV)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police said a man on a bike pepper-sprayed three innocent children in northeast Portland on Tuesday evening – and it appears they were targeted just because they’re black.

Neighbors in the area of Northeast 9th and Killingsworth Street told KPTV they’re disgusted.

“I saw a fire truck outside my neighbor’s house and I was worried that maybe something had happened to her, so the next day I stopped by and I heard that her grandkids had been attacked. Totally took the wind out of me,” said Laurel Carrasco.

Police said it happened just after 9 p.m. Tuesday when a man was riding a bike down 9th Avenue and passed by a grandmother, mother and three boys as they got the kids into the car.

Police said the man turned around and came back toward the African-American family, then pepper-sprayed the boys and yelled a racial slur.

The kids are 7, 11 and 12 years old.

“My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe that,” Carrasco said. “I know that people do horrible things to children, but I never could believe it actually happened. It made me sick to my stomach.”

Neighbors say one of the children has special needs.

All three were treated by medics on the scene for exposure to pepper spray.

Police are still looking for the man who attacked them.

“To have hate of that magnitude and to pour that hate onto an innocent victim, a child who is helpless who cannot defend themselves? That’s extreme,” said neighbor Vanessa White.

White said it’s just one example of the prejudice the black community faces every day.

“It’s not just a bumper sticker or a yard sign, black lives matter. It’s an actual movement. It’s a cry for, ‘Hey, we are equal. We want equality. That’s all we want. We are people,'” she added.

Both White and Carrasco know the grandmother involved in the attack and said she has been a mainstay in the neighborhood for years, always looking out for the welfare of others.

“First and foremost, we want to find him so he can’t hurt anyone else, get him the help he needs, because obviously that’s considerable,” Carrasco said. “And I guess secondarily I hope that our neighborhood pulls together and supports this family and is kind to each other and looks out for the kids in their own community.”

Police describe the suspect as a white or Hispanic man in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 lbs. He was wearing black bicycle clothing and a gray and black helmet. He was riding a road-style bicycle at the time.

A white box fell off the back of his bike. Police said tools were inside, but nothing that helps to identify him.