PORTLAND, Maine — A string of violent late-night assaults on Portland pedestrians — most of them women — is alarming residents and spurring investigations by police.
On Wednesday night, a man was assaulted with a blunt object in Fort Sumner Park, a public park in the East End, at around 10 p.m.
Police are investigating whether that attack is related to three other violent assaults in Portland that occurred this spring on May 5, May 29 and June 8.
In all three of those previous incidents, the victims were women who were walking outside during the hours between 9:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. The victims in all cases described being attacked from behind and knocked to the ground, typically with a blunt object. Each described the assailant as a “tall” or “slim” white male. Two attacks were in the West End, and one was on North Street, a block from Fort Sumner Park.
Portland Police Chief Frank Clark said officers and detectives are working to identify the person or persons responsible for the attacks “and hold them accountable for their actions.”
“Such random assaults are not commonplace in the city of Portland,” Clark said.
Residents have begun to organize community-led watch efforts in neighborhood associations and on social media, according to City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, who represents District 2 in the West End. Others have organized an on-call neighborhood buddy list for friends who need someone to walk them home at night.
Thibodeau has received dozens of emails from constituents alarmed about the attacks, and has told residents to call the police’s non-emergency number if something seems wrong in the neighborhood.
“I’ve asked folks to make sure that they keep their front porch light on if they can,” Thibodeau said. “I think we’ve all been really inward-focused this year in our homes and there’s some dark spots in the neighborhood.”
Police say the recent attacks are not related to an assault and reports of women being approached by a similarly described man in October of 2020. The suspect in that case was charged, but charges were later dropped by the victim.
Police ask for anyone with information that could help solve these recent crimes to call 207-874-8575.