PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland police have arrested a bias crime suspect on a warrant after he was accused of punching a father and his 5-year-old daughter while they were biking on the Eastbank Esplanade on Saturday.
Authorities issued a warrant for Dylan Kesterson after he failed to appear in court on Wednesday. The Portland Police Bureau said officers found Kesterson near Southwest Third and Jefferson. He was booked shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Kesterson is accused of yelling at an Asian family visiting Portland over their race and then hitting the father and daughter several times in the head.
He was arrested and released hours after the alleged assault on the Eastbank Esplanade due to a new Oregon law that made him eligible for release because he did not have any prior convictions.
Ryuichiro Abe, a resident of California and of Japanese descent, said in court that he felt they could have been killed. He described Kesterson’s release as being neither “reasonable or acceptable.”
“I hope to avoid exposing the other people in danger because of this deranged man,” he said in court Tuesday.
On Wednesday, there was a hearing requested by the district attorney’s office to bring Kesterson back into custody. The DA’s office argued that new charges of assault and an additional bias crime would have met the criteria to hold Kesterson in pre-trial custody.
John Needham, a witness who helped police track down Kesterson during the attack, said Saturday’s release was an outrage, stating in an email, “we are baffled that a man we endangered ourselves to get apprehended would be released from custody the same day. We followed him precisely because we feared he would attack another vulnerable party of Asian heritage.”
The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Asian attacks like the one on the Eastbank have only grown since 2020.
The organization told KOIN 6 News while Asian and Pacific Islanders make up 5% of Oregon’s population they accounted for 10% of bias incident reports to the DOJ hotline in 2020.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a huge rise in anti-AAPI hate across the country. And while it’s heartbreaking every single time and it’s unacceptable every time but it’s unfortunately become a pattern,” said Kendall Kosai, director of policy for the anti-defamation league-western division.
Kesterson is scheduled for a hearing at 9:45 a.m. Thursday. He now faces eight charges including bias crime and assault.
KOIN 6 News’ Brandon Thompson and Joelle Jones contributed to this article.