(Photo: Mult. Co. Sheriff)
Members of a local cycling team were pepper sprayed by a man in the parking lot of a store on Sauvie Island this afternoon. The incident was reported on the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list by David Root, road team director for the Therapeutic Associates Cycling team.
Root says that he and other members of the team had just finished a motor-pacing session when they pulled into the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel Grocery Store near the Sauvie Island Bridge when a man driving a Ford F150 pick-up attempted to back out of the store. “When we pulled past him he rolled down his window and asked why we were staring at him and we told him that we’re just trying get past him and that we weren’t staring,” wrote Root. “He then continued to back out and clipped our moto driver Jon [Pearson] and then proceeded to try and start a altercation with Jon.”
Then, according to Root, the man in the pickup threatened Pearson and, “Then quickly as if he had it cocked and ready to go, pulled out the most powerful Police grade Pepper Spray and shot him at close range “full discharge” in the eyes and face and some of the rest of us got a little too.”
The man driving the pickup then threatened other riders before driving off. Root took note of the license plate number and called 911 immediately. He reported that the police and emergency responders showed up quickly to administer first aid. The man driving the truck was found and arrested shortly thereafter. Pearson, who suffered the brunt of the pepper spray, is “doing much better” Root says.
According to Root, the man was acting belligerent and “was looking for trouble.” After the incident, members of a duck hunting club on Sauvie Island approached the riders and said they were sorry for what happened and that the man was no longer welcome at their club (turns out they were a bit concerned about his behavior themselves).
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department has identified the man as 68-year-old Kenneth Tester. He has been charged with felony assault, disorderly conduct, and felony hit-and-run.
Here’s more from Root:
“All I can take away from this experience is that there are some really crazy people out there looking for a reason to cause harm to a cyclist or anyone for that matter and just be aware if someone is trying to provoke or start a altercation over nothing it could be a warning sign. I know many of you ride out there and some of the locals get a little miffed about all the riders, luckily this guy isn’t a local and probably won’t be back anytime soon.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office booking information, Tester has been released. If you happen to see a late 2000s, white, Ford F150 with license plate of 220ESF, steer clear. We’ll keep you posted with any other information on this case.