Angry dad disrupts summer school lunch service in Powellhurst-Gilbert

Find out who stormed out of Ron Russell Middle School’s cafeteria after making public threats – and why, they say, he did it …

Police investigate a ruckus here at Ron Russell Middle School caused by a father who alleges his family has been treated in a discriminatory manner.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For kids and parents taking advantage of the free summer lunch program at Ron Russell Middle School in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood, the typical calm of the meal was shattered when a man became irate about the food he and his children were offered on August 9.

“I don’t know why, but he was really mad,” said Ernesto Martinez, when he came out of the school with his mother Leticia. “He said there was something wrong with the food he got; that our lunch was better than his.”

A Portland Police Bureau officer looks at notes she’s taken while investigating the lunchtime incident.

Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Peter Simpson confirmed the young man’s story, as well as the account given to East Portland News by a district officer at the scene.

The irate man apparently believed that people of various ethnic backgrounds were being served what he considered to be a full hot lunch, featuring hamburgers.

“He claimed that he and his kids were offered only peanut butter sandwiches,” the officer stated. “He got upset about this and called the Lars Larson Show radio broadcast and told the producer that ‘maybe we ought to do something about this invasion’, as he called it.”

This is one of three schools – along with Ventura Park Elementary School, and Alice Ott Middle School in the David Douglas School District – that serves free breakfasts and lunches to children under 18 years of age during the summer.

Simpson noted, “The way he talked to the radio station staff suggested that he might trigger an active shooter situation.”

While the radio show’s producer kept the man talking, police moved into the area and stopped the vehicle while he was still on his cell phone.

Officials say that the conduct of this man, 49-year-old William D. Attwood, was disorderly and intimidating when he visited Ron Russell Middle School during lunchtime. MCDC photo

“Officers took 49-year-old William D. Attwood into custody at 1:14 p.m. without incident,” Simpson stated. “He was charged with one count of Disorderly Conduct and four counts of Intimidation.”

Conditions at Attwood’s home also concerned officials for his children’s well-being, police said, but they wouldn’t reveal specific details.

Attwood was released from custody on his own recognizance, the following day.

At the scene, Dan McCue, spokesman for the David Douglas School District declined to comment, saying that the arrest took place off campus, and police were handling the matter. According to the school district’s website, about the fee meals, “There is no registration, and all children are welcome.”

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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