Court documents dating back to last month show 911 calls reporting the same man threatening to attack the women.
PORTLAND, Ore. – A man accused of hitting a woman in the head with a large rock last week appeared in court on Thursday. This was just the latest in a string of random and violent attacks on the streets of Portland.
According to court documents, Dwayne Anthony Simpson, 40, had just been released from the Unity Center for Behavioral Health when he allegedly attacked the woman. Police said the attack was random, but it was not the first time they had dealt with Simpson. Court documents show 911 calls from last month reporting that Simpson had threatened to attack the women.
The attack happened on August 9 and multiple Portland Police officers were called to the area outside the Unity Center in Northeast Portland.
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Court documents say when police arrived, they found a woman covered in blood, her head bandaged. The woman told police she had been leaning against a building and saw Simpson pacing back and forth. She turned, and that’s when Simpson allegedly hit her in the head with what officers say was a 34-pound rock, about the size of a basketball.
“I think it’s a terrible situation,” said Gwendolyan Straughter, who lives across the street from the behavioral health center where Simpson had been staying. “There’s so much crime in Portland and it’s just a bad scene. We have a lot of people who are not doing well here right now.”
After the woman was hit, she fell and hit her head on a concrete barrier. Witnesses told police she was on the ground, motionless, for about two minutes. She was then taken to the hospital.
“My heart goes out to that woman that was hurt because I don’t like to see anybody hurt anybody,” Straughter said.
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Simpson admitted walking up to the victim with a rock but denied hitting him with it. Police spoke with two witnesses who saw the attack, court documents say. Officers arrested Simpson and charged him with three felonies, including second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon.
Just last month, police responded to two calls involving Simpson’s mental health. Court documents show that on July 24, 2022, a 911 call was made saying that Simpson was both homicidal and suicidal and wanted to kill a woman or child. The police sent him to the hospital. After he was released, police responded to another call where he was yelling that he was going to “smack a woman in the skull.” At the time, officers were unable to locate him.
For those who live and work nearby, these random attacks are becoming all too common.
“I’m not surprised,” said Eoj Johnson, who works nearby. “It is unfortunate. It is becoming the new norm of continuous violence. You have a lot of people struggling with mental health and I think when people say they’re going to do something, you have to take it seriously.”
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Melissa Eckstein, president of the Unity Center for Behavioral Health provided the following statement to KGW:
“We take the health and well-being of our patients seriously, and we think what we’re seeing in our community is concerning. The violence that occurred outside the Unity Center on August 9 is deeply disturbing and our thoughts are with the person who was injured in the attack … When a person comes to the Unity Center, we see them in our Psychiatric Emergency Service – our emergency department. We have seen a steady increase in numbers over the past two years. Many individuals come in and stay with us for less than 24 hours. About 65% of them are homeless. As of June this year, we have cared for more than 5,000 people in our emergency service, which is an average of almost 1,000 people a month… We will continue to advocate for the resources and support we know are badly needed. ”
Simpson pleaded not guilty during his court appearance Thursday. He is due back in court on September 30.