Off-duty East Precinct sergeant calls 9-1-1 for help during MAX assault

It’s amazing but true: See why this outer East Portland cop had to “call for backup” – in the middle of the day – when her husband was attacked by thugs on their way home from vacation …

Although TriMet says that riding the MAX Light Rail line is generally safe, when a law enforcement couple reached this station at Clackamas Town Center, two young ruffians they’d had words with brutally attacked them.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Riders of the Green MAX Light Rail Line used words like “astonished” and “frightening” to describe the feelings they had, after seeing two young thugs assail a couple in broad daylight at the end of the line – Clackamas Town Center Station – on Monday, August 2.

The couple, both of them off-duty law enforcement officers, had been on vacation, according to Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) spokesman, Detective Jim Strovink. As they were returning home, “They were assaulted by two males.

“Their relaxing vacation ended, and this incident began, for CCSO Lieutenant Paul Steigleder and his wife, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Sergeant Debbie Steigleder,” Strovink went on, “When the couple observed two males unlawfully drinking alcohol and smoking on the MAX Light Rail Gateway Station platform.”

Using what was intended to be a “soft approach”, Lt. Steigleder approached the two young men and said their behavior wasn’t appropriate. One man agreed, and appeared to comply with request to obey the rules.

”A TriMet employee came onto the scene and confronted the two males who were observed consuming alcohol and smoking on the platform,” Strovink continued. “Lt. Steigleder then observed the two males being uncooperative with the TriMet employee and, in an effort to assist the lone TriMet employee, intervened by announcing, while presenting his credentials, that he was a Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant and the two males should cooperate.”

When the Steigleders exited the MAX train, two alleged thugs followed them out onto the Clackamas Town Center platform.

Ruffians seek vengeance
When it looked as if the situation were well in hand, the Steigleders transferred to the MAX Green line and continued their trip to Clackamas Town Center. What they didn’t know was the two rowdies also jumped on the same train, in the trailing car, to follow the couple.

“Upon arriving at the Clackamas Town Center Station, the Steigleders exited the train and began walking toward the long ramp that leads down from the platform, luggage in tow. Debbie was walking ahead, ready to meet relatives there to receive a ride home. But Paul heard one of the two men yelling behind him, ‘There he is, the Lieutenant, he’s all on his own, now!’,” Strovink said.

First, one of the two subjects started throwing punches at the lieutenant, then the other one joined the kick-and-punch-fest. Fortunately, other MAX riders came to his aid, while his wife called 9-1-1 to summon aid. Strovink added, “Then, the sergeant rushed back to help physically defend her husband, who was being assaulted in the parking lot.”

The attack took place, right here, in broad daylight.

Punching hooligans run and hide
Perhaps seeing they were outnumbered; the suspects broke off their assault and took off toward a department store in Clackamas Town Center. The Steigleders chased the fleeing suspects; the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies arrived and joined in the pursuit.

”After a brief search of the store by uniformed CCSO Deputies,” Strovink related, “And, thanks to the help of an alert witness, one of the two suspects was quickly apprehended trying to hide behind a clothing display. The second suspect was taken into custody while navigating through a shopping aisle of the department store.”

A search of the suspects and their belongings revealed evidence of what is believed to be marijuana, beer, and a suspicious white powdery substance. “All these items have been retained as evidence,” Strovink reported.

No serious injuries reported
Despite this incident, Strovink said that the couple wasn’t seriously injured. “This is very fortunate indeed, because investigators believe at least one of the suspects involved with this assault was armed with a rock, during the attack.”

These two men, identified as 23-year-old Troix Alexander Chandler and 22-year-old Jonathan James Andrews, are now in jail on a variety of charges.

“The two apprehended suspects were transported to the Clackamas County Jail and lodged with the related criminal charges,” Strovink added, as he named the suspects and stated their charges.

Troix Alexander Chandler, age 23, identified himself as a transient, and is charged with the following crimes: Assault in the third-degree, Assaulting a public safety officer, Disorderly conduct in the second-degree, Interfering with public transportation, and Harassment. Chandler’s total bail is set at $79,500.

Jonathan James Andrews, age 22, who has a S.E. Stark Street address in Portland, is in jail charged with: Assault in the third-degree, Assaulting a public safety officer, Disorderly conduct in the second-degree, Failure to register as a sex offender, and Interfering with public transportation. Andrews’ total bail is set at $91,000.

Both men were arraigned on August 3, in Clackamas County Circuit Court.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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