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Group lures man to Gresham park, where he is beaten and robbed


A Gresham man is behind bars, and four juveniles are in police custody, accused of luring a gay man to a local park, robbing him at gunpoint and beating him up.

The victim — a 24-year-old Clackamas man who the Outlook is not naming because he's a crime victim — went to Vance Park, in the 1400 block of Southeast 182nd Avenue, around midnight on Friday, Feb. 15, to meet a man he'd been chatting with through an online dating website for a sexual encounter, said Det. John Rasmussen, Gresham police spokesman.

He saw a person sitting on a park bench and thought it was the man he was there to meet. But when he approached the person, several masked men and one masked female came out of hiding and while displaying guns, punched and kicked the man.

The man he was there to meet also joined in on the attack, Rasmussen said. Justin Simms

They stole the victim's wallet, cell phone and other personal items before running from the scene.

The victim suffered minor injuries, such as bumps and bruises, and reported the attack to police.

Due to the large number of suspects and guns involved, a SWAT team responded to the scene. Police found two juveniles running from the area and detained them. Further investigation revealed that more suspects were at a nearby house in the 19400 block of East Burnside Street.

Officers arrested them and recovered two guns, both airsoft pistols, that were used in the attack, Rasmussen said.

Justin Simms, 19, of Gresham is being held on $260,000 bail at the Multnomah County Jail on allegations of second-degree robbery, third-degree assault and first-degree intimidation.

Three 16-year-old boys — two from Portland and one from Troutdale — as well as a 14-year-old Gresham girl also are in police custody on the same allegations. Police are not releasing their names because they are juveniles.

The intimidation charge stems from the victim being targeted due to his sexual orientation, which the suspects then used lure him to the park, Rasmussen said.

Police believe the group may have recently attacked other gay men using a similar ruse, possibly at Vance Park or the surrounding area. Detectives ask anyone who has experienced a similar attack to contact Det. Scott Hogan at 503- 618-3141 or call the Gresham Police tip line at 503-618-2719.  

“The Gresham Police recognize bias crimes like this often go unreported and encourage victims to call to report crimes against them or others,” Rasmussen said. “The utmost care will be afforded to protect the victim's identity.”