Neighbor maced, woman from racist McMinnville rant arrested


Amber Rocco was convicted of harassment after yelling racial slurs at a couple in McMinnville in 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A woman accused of yelling racial slurs at a black couple in McMinnville more than a year ago is in trouble with the law again.

Amber Rocco pleaded guilty to charges of unauthorized use of a weapon, intimidation and two counts of harassment in the 2019 case. She was sentenced to 30 days behind bars.

Rocco was arrested last week after allegedly using mace on her neighbor and yelling a racial slur at her.

That neighbor — Barbara Helderman-Kinney — told KOIN 6 News she’s had problems with Rocco in the past and is now her most recent victim. Helderman-Kinney said the entire situation has made her fear for her life.

Helderman-Kinney said she was shoveling snow outside her home in Idanha when Rocco approached her and started circling her with a can of mace.

“She backed up, kept throwing snow, spinning her tires at me while I was digging,” Helderman-Kinney said. “She had pepper spray on her and I wasn’t sure what it was.”

A mugshot of Amber Rocco, Jan. 23, 2020. (Linn County Sheriff’s Office)

That’s when Helderman-Kinney asked Rocco what she was holding — and the situation escalated.

“She said ‘pepper spray’ — you know, the B-word — and she said ‘if you don’t know, go back to Mexico,'” Helderman-Kinney said. “My girlfriend said that’s the same thing they did in McMinnville — the same thing.”

Lt. Michelle Duncan with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Rocco was arrested Jan. 14 for 2nd-degree unlawful use of tear gas or mace.

Helderman-Kinney’s husband, Steve Kinney, said the couple has surveillance video and have turned it over to deputies.

“Her forehead was red, her nose was red — but that’s all on video, the police have a copy of all the video,” he said.

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