Gresham, OR – A 78-year-old man had part of his face and ear chewed off in a horrific attack on a Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) light rail train early Tuesday morning.
The gruesome assault occurred on the Cleveland Avenue MAX platform located at 1250 Northeast 8th Street at approximately 2:17 a.m. on Jan. 3, the City of Gresham said in a press release later that day.
Gresham police and a Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy responded to the scene after receiving a call about what was initially believed to be a possible stabbing.
“Witnesses reported seeing a significant amount of blood,” the city said.
The attack was still underway when the officers and the deputy arrived at the platform.
“The responding officers and deputy located the suspect, who was still on top of the victim, continuing the attack,” the city said. “Officers took the suspect into custody and called for paramedics to render aid to the victim.”
But investigators soon discovered the bloodied victim’s injuries hadn’t been caused by a blade at all.
“The victim, a 78-year-old man from Hillsboro, suffered serious injuries to his head and face,” the city said. “Detectives confirmed the victim was not stabbed but the suspect had chewed off the victim’s ear and part of his face.”
“The injury was so severe that responders could see the victim’s skull,” the city added.
One of the first responders was heard in a 911 dispatch audio recording saying, “Half of this guy’s face appears to be chewed off,” The Oregonian reported.
Details regarding the victim’s condition and prognosis were not immediately released.
Detectives are looking into whether the suspect might have been using “illicit drugs” that could have “played any part in the suspect’s actions,” according to the press release.
Police initially booked the suspect under the fictitious name he provided of “El Baker,” but they have since identified him as 25-year-old Koryn Kraemer, the city said.
Kraemer, who recently moved to the Portland area from Georgia, has been charged with second-degree assault.
The motive for the attack is unclear.
“It’s a scary place in the mornings some days,” one commuter who uses the Cleveland Avenue MAX platform on a daily basis told KPTV.
She said she has seen “people sleeping half-naked” at the train stop and noted it is difficult to know if they’ve “been attacked” or if they are simply “sleeping on the sidewalk.”
TriMet said in a statement that they were upset to learn that someone was injured at the train station, KOIN reported.
“The MAX Blue Line was not in service at the time, and it’s unclear if the people involved were using the transit system at the time of the incident,” TriMet said. “We are not commenting on this case, as it is in the very early stages of the investigation. Gresham Police is the lead and may have additional information.”
“What happens in the community will at times happen on or near the transit system. As we work to provide safety system-wide, across our 533 square-mile service district stretching across three counties, we also look to our partners for help addressing larger safety and community issues,” they added. “Transit Police, which is led by Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, work closely with other local law enforcement to investigate criminal activity that spills over onto the transit system and may have more.”
The horrific attack came just one week after a homeless woman shoved a three-year-old girl face-first onto the train track in northeast Portland.
That incident occurred at the Gateway Transit Center MAX train platform on Dec. 28, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s office said in a press release the following day.
A TriMet video surveillance camera showed a three-year-old girl in a pink coat waiting for the train alongside her mother when a woman behind her suddenly jumped to her feet and shoved the girl from behind.
The child flew face-first onto the tracks as multiple people jumped up to get her to safety, the video showed.
But the woman who pushed her simply sat back down.
Schmidt said the attack occurred “without provocation,” and that the little girl “landed face-first onto the metal rail and rocks.”
The victim was left with a “severe headache” and a small red mark on her forehead as a result of the assault, he noted.
The suspect, 32-year-old Brianna Lace Workman, has been arrested on charges of third-degree assault, interfering with public transportation, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct, and first-degree attempted assault.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) said there will be additional deputies patrolling the MAX areas in light of the two attacks.
“To create safe environments for transit riders, operators and employees, this month, the Transit Police Division is increasing its staff, by adding two full-time deputies, and increasing hours of operations,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement to KOIN. “TPD is continuing to perform public safety missions at TriMet Transit Centers and platforms where the volume of calls for service are higher in order to deter and disrupt criminal activity.”