'In hindsight, being in a public park at night is not the safest place'

'In hindsight, being in a public park at night is not the safest place'

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Police are investigating two “large-scale” fights that happened in Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland earlier this week.

According to Sgt. Pete Simpson, both fights involved groups of black teenagers randomly attacking people in the park.

Simpson said the first incident happened on June 13 around 10:30 p.m. That’s when officers responded to reports of 150 drunken teenagers in the park.

Officers arrived and found several groups of teens leaving. As they continued through the park a young woman flagged them down and pointed out a 14-year-old boy who had been beaten up, Simpson said. He was lying on a picnic table.

The boy had been hit in the face and paramedics were called to treat his injuries.

According to Simpson, the victim told officers he was with a friend in the park when he was punched from behind. He said his attackers were 5-10 black teenagers who were randomly attacking white teens in the park. He said they also attacked a homeless man.

The victim said the attackers stole his cell phone, iPod, headphones and hat.

The second attack happened the next night, also around 10:30 p.m. In that case, officers got a report of a fight involving more than 20 people in the park.

They didn’t find the fight when they arrived but did find three men who said they were attacked by a group of 20-30 black teenagers, Simpson said.

The three victims, who are all in their 20s, said they were playing “soccer tennis” at the tennis courts when some of the teens started calling out to them and throwing bottles on the court, according to Simpson.

The victims said they were then attacked by people in the group. Two of the men suffered facial injuries but declined medical treatment.

"As they came onto the court, it became clear it was time to get out of there," one of the victims told KATU. "In hindsight, being in a public park at night is not the safest place to begin with."

Portland Police officers plan on stepping up patrols in the park this weekend. The park will also close at 10 p.m. through the weekend instead of the normal midnight closing time.

Anyone with information about the attacks can e-mail CrimeTips@PortlandOregon.gov.