NEWBERG, Ore. – Police arrested a man who they said escaped from a group home in Newberg and assaulted a boy and his mother who live in a home next door Thursday afternoon.
Richard Lee Wright, 32, also assaulted a female staff member as he escaped the state operated group home, located at 918 Charles Street, according to Newberg-Dundee Police.
Wright then entered the neighboring home, where police said he punched a 7-year-old boy in the face multiple times. The boy’s mother tried to stop Wright and he punched her in the face as well, police said. She was able to push Wright out of the house while he continued to hit her.
The woman’s 10-year-old son called 911. Police arrived and took Wright into custody. He faces three counts of assault and trespassing charges.
Paramedics took the mother and son who were assaulted to a hospital. They were later released.
"She's OK, very traumatized," said Diana Turner, the grandmother of the victims. "But she's strong. She got ahold of the guy, pushed him out of the house while he was hitting her."
Police said they contacted representatives of the group home and asked them to place Wright in another facility immediately for the safety of the neighborhood.
And some neighbors are concerned. Summer Bryant, who lives up the street from the group home, called the situation "scary." She said she first found out the house was a group home last October.
"On Halloween we took the kids trick-or-treating and there was somebody outside telling us that kids aren’t allowed there. And they didn’t tell us why," said Bryant.
A look into Wright's background revealed he pleaded guilty in 1999 and 2000 to first-degree felony burglary in Portland. A 2006 charge of third-degree robbery in Clackamas County was dismissed, and a 2005 Washington County case involving the assault of a public safety officer was dismissed for mental incompetency.
The group home is one of 23 similar homes located between Eugene and Portland. It is part of a DHS program called Stabilization and Crisis Unit (SACU). DHS says the program "focuses on supporting people in community-based settings and enabling them to return to less intensive service levels as quickly as possible." The homes are staffed 24-7.
Someone at the group home declined to answer questions from KATU and police. A DHS spokesman told KATU News reporter Hillary Lake that all of the group homes are protected by HIPPAA privacy laws.
DHS Director Erinn Kelley-Siel released a statement through a spokesperson Friday evening: "We take this incident very seriously, and we are already involved in conducting an incident review to look at security at this home, as well as our work procedures and practices to ensure the safety of the local community, the residents of the home and the DHS employees who work there."