Essex Park attack leaves strangers bloodied, battered

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A 20-year-old man randomly punched a mother and then attacked several others at a Foster-Powell neighborhood park after he poured a bottle of water on her, police said.

The attack happened in Essex Park in Southeast Portland around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. The suspect, Nelson Elias Epel, allegedly poured the water, punched one woman, hit another with a tennis racket, stole a cellphone and hit 2 men in the face, cutting one’s lip and breaking the other man’s nose.

A woman told police that she was at the park with her 3-year-old daughter when a complete stranger approached her and her friend as they sat at a park picnic table.

The stranger reportedly said, “Have a nice day,” and the mother responded, “You, too.”

In response, the stranger then said, “What did you say, b—-?” and poured the contents of her water bottle over her head, according to court documents.

The stranger, later identified as Nelson Elias Epel, then punched the mother and her friend, according to court documents. The group ran from the area but Epel reportedly followed them.

As a bystander started pulling out her phone to call 911, Epel struck the woman with a tennis racket. He then stole the woman’s cellphone, according to court documents.

At that point, two men intervened. Epel hit one of the men in the face. His injured resulted in cuts to his nose and mouth, records state. The other man suffered a broken nose.

An officer who responded to a 911 call saw “several people in the park that were covered in blood,” court documents revealed.

Police eventually located Epel and one of the victim’s said she was “completely 100% confident” that the person in custody was the person who assaulted her.

Nelson Elias Epel was charged with second-degree assault, fourth-degree assault, third-degree robbery, and interfering with a report.

Epel is due back in court next month.

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