Police investigate report of bias crime at Bill's Steak House and Lounge

Bill’s Steak House and Lounge - KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland police are investigating a report of a possible bias crime at Bill’s Steak House and Lounge on Northeast Sandy Boulevard.

Officers responded to a report of a man trying to slash vehicle tires with a knife near the business at about 7:50 p.m.

When officers arrived at the scene, they spoke with witnesses who said the suspect left the area before they arrived. Police K-9s searched the neighborhood, but did not locate a suspect.

Officers believe the suspect was not allowed to enter the steak house. After he was denied entry, officers think he used a six-inch-long knife to slash several vehicle tires.

As he was slashing the tires, police say the suspect approached a black man and made racial slurs at him while holding the knife.

"It made me want to smack the life out of him," said Idrahim Johnson, who says the man repeatedly used a racial slur against him. "There's no use in that. You can't fight ignorance with violence. What's that going to do? That's not going to change his mind."

The restaurant's staff tells KATU News the man was initially told to leave the property because he was smoking marijuana in a covered back patio. Consuming marijuana at sites that serve alcohol is against Oregon state law, and the staff didn't want to jeopardize a fine so they asked the man to leave.

When he wouldn't immediately exit the property, Johnson says he decided to help the staff escort the man off the property. That's when Johnson says the man continuously called him a racial slur. Staff says at one point the man fell over and Johnson tried to help the man off the ground, while the man hurled racial slurs at him.

"He wanted to get under my skin, he wanted me to do something, and as a black man in this country most times you can't even defend yourself," Johnson said. "I just took the only road I know how to."

Police say no one was injured.

The suspect is described as a white man in his 50s with gray or graying hair and graying facial hair. He’s about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. Police say he has crooked teeth and is in possession of the six-inch-long knife.

Anyone with information about the incident or the suspect should contact Bias Crime Detail Detective Jeff Sharp at (503) 823-9773 or Jeff.Sharp@portlandoregon.gov.

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