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Man charged with bias crime in attack on man of Japanese descent and his daughter

The suspect made comments about the family’s race, authorities said, before punching a father and his 5-year-old daughter in the head in Oregon.

Police in Portland, Oregon, charged a 34-year-old man with two counts of bias crime after they say he assaulted a 5-year-old girl and her father of Japanese descent after making comments about their race.

Authorities say the suspect approached the two, who were visiting from California, while they were riding their bikes Saturday on the Eastbank Esplanade, just south of the Hawthorne Bridge, before making the comments and then punching the man in the head. 

The suspect then started punching the daughter, who was wearing a helmet, before bystanders intervened and the suspect walked away, police said. Neither of the victims needed medical attention. 

Police have identified the suspect as Dylan J. Kesterson. He was brought into the Multnomah County Jail but has since been released following a judge’s order, the district attorney’s office told NBC News. 

Kesterson’s arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, when he’ll be assigned legal representation.

Attempts to reach Kesterson by phone and email were unsuccessful.

In a statement, Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps called the attack “horrific and unacceptable” and said his “heart goes out to the family.” 

“We have got to bring back public safety in this town,” Mapps said. “I appreciate the work of the Portland Police Bureau in arresting this individual. I am concerned that he was released from jail the same day he was arrested.”

Carmen Rubio, another city commissioner, called the incident a “terrifying event” in a Twitter post on Saturday. 

“No one should ever fear for their safety/security—whether visiting our city or living here,” she wrote. “Everyone deserves to feel welcomed/belonging, & encounter a Portland free of racial bias/hate—especially children. Crimes like this are clear indicators of where our work/focus needs to be & why local governments working together to address shared community issues is important.”

Under Oregon law, hate crimes are designated as “bias crimes.” According to the Portland Police Bureau, 14 anti-Asian bias crimes have occurred in the city since 2019. Nationwide, anti-Asian hate crimes have reached unparalleled levels since the onset of the pandemic.