Man accused of racially-motivated attack in Portland arrested after failing to appear in court

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 11:58 AM PDT
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MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. (KPTV) - The suspect in an attack on a Japanese-American family in Portland over the weekend was arrested Wednesday afternoon following a no-bail bench warrant for his arrest.

Dylan Kesterson, 34, is wanted by police after failing to show up for a court hearing. He is...
Dylan Kesterson, 34, is wanted by police after failing to show up for a court hearing. He is accused of attacking a Japanese-American family unprovoked in Portland.(Portland Police Bureau)

Dylan Kesterson, 34, was first arrested Saturday after he allegedly attacked Ryuichiro Abe and his 5-year-old daughter who are of Japanese descent.

The attack brought many bystanders to jump into action this weekend like Peter Gould who was walking with his wife when he heard screaming and saw Kesterson repeatedly punching a father on a bike. He says thanks to his Army experience, he knew how to intervene but says he couldn’t have done it without the help of a dozen other bystanders.

“It’s just unfortunate someone would do that,” Gould said. “This was a bias crime, for sure. He was yelling that ‘You don’t belong in my country, you’ve taken my stuff.’ It was obvious he was angry with them because of what they looked like.”

Portland police say Abe and his daughter were riding a four-wheel tandem bike along the Eastbank Esplanade when Kesterson allegedly came out of nowhere and started yelling racial slurs at the family. Abe said Kesterson punched him in the head more than 50 times. He then turned to Abe’s daughter and punched her in the head as well.

“By the time I got up to the situation, he was hitting the husband repeatedly over and over. The frightening part of this whole thing is seeing her daddy go through that had to just be terrible. That’s something you carry for a long, long time,” Gould said.

Gould said once he heard the screaming, his military experience kicked in and he ran over, grabbing a piece of plywood to defend the dad.

“I said, ‘Back off NOW,’ and really tried to look him in the eye and basically showed him I had something to fight him with,” Gould said. “I just want to thank all the other Portlanders who participated. I’m just glad there was a whole group of moms and dads and even younger kids who were trying to help, doing something to make a difference. I just want to thank my neighbors for being good neighbors.”

Kesterson did not appear in court Tuesday, but did call into court to plead not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted assault, fourth-degree assault, two counts of first-degree bias crime, third-degree attempted assault, second-degree bias crime, and harassment. He was told to appear in person Wednesday morning, but did not show up.

An off-duty officer then spotted Kesterson in the area of Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Jefferson Street around 3 p.m. Wednesday and alerted officers. PPB caught up to Kesterson at Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Jefferson Street, where they arrested him.

FOX 12 reached out to authorities to find out why he was initially arrested and released the same day.

Multnomah County Circuit Court responded, saying: “Under the Presiding Judge Order, a person charged with Bias Crime in the First Degree who has no history of prior assault convictions may be released on conditional release. According to court records, this person had no arrests or convictions of any type and so qualified for conditional release prior to arraignment.”

According to court documents, Kesterson is homeless and has no previous criminal record.

FOX 12 reached out to Abe on Wednesday about Kesterson not showing up to court.

Abe replied saying that Kesterson “has no perception that he did anything wrong. I have no good ideas on how to punish someone who has no sense of guilt. However, at least we are sure that his freedom to live his life causes the risk of the community. I cannot accept what he did and the way he thinks. I hope that a tragedy like ours will never be repeated.”