PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A man is facing numerous bias crime charges for allegedly threatening to harm a group of teens based on their race.
The investigation started Monday when deputies with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office were called to the 800 block of NE Harlow Road in Troutdale.
Investigators learned a group of Hispanic and African American teens between 14 and 19 years of age were swimming in the Sandy River when a woman came up to them, used racial hate speech and hit one of the teens with a backpack.
After the fight, a group of people approached the teens and one of them used racial hate speech and threatened the teen with an axe or hatchet, according to the victims.
Deputies said the man with the weapon — 21-year-old John Yeargain — denied being involved but said he did witness the fight between the woman with the backpack and one of the teens.
The sheriff’s office said that during their conversation, Yeargain used racial hate speech several times while talking about the teens.
One of the teens had wounds consistent with being hit with a backpack, deputies said.
Yeargain was charged Tuesday with seven counts of first-degree bias crime and seven counts of unlawful use of a weapon and seven counts of menacing, according to Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill.