A city that entered 2023 in a foul humor received a triple dose of horror during the holiday break. With Portland experiencing 101 homicides over the previous year, it’s difficult to label any confluence of events as “a new low,” but three shocking regional incidents in the space of a week—two violent attacks at train stations and the destruction of a religious landmark—seemed to consolidate most of the city’s fears into easily digestible nuggets of nastiness. It helped that the common elements in the incidents were social ills that residents already felt were spiraling out of control.
Date: Dec. 28
Location: Gateway Transit Center, Northeast 99th Avenue and Halsey Street
Defendant: Brianna Workman, 32
Charges: First-degree attempted assault, third-degree assault, recklessly endangering another person, and two other misdemeanors
What she’s accused of: Shoving a 3-year-old girl off the MAX station platform and onto the train tracks, unprovoked. No train was coming, but the child suffered a bump on her head.
Notable line from charging documents: “Witness reported that she just saw a ‘little girl flying into the tracks’ face first, and observed the child’s head bounce off the metal track.”
Common elements: Attack occurred on a public transit platform. Suspect was unhoused and had a history of drug use.
Which drugs: Workman refused to answer police questions, but her prior convictions include methamphetamine and heroin possession.
Date: Jan. 3
Location: Cleveland Avenue MAX Station,1200 NE 8th St., Gresham
Defendant: Koryn Kraemer, 25
Charges: Second-degree assault
What he’s accused of: Attacking a 78-year-old man on the train platform, biting off his ear, and “gnawing” the skin of his cheek until his skull was visible.
Notable line from charging documents: “Kraemer stated that [the victim] was a robot who was trying to kill him.…Kraemer stated that he ate “the robot’s” ear and nose, but spit it all out on the ground, and that police saved him by separating him from the robot.”
Common elements: Attack occurred on a public transit platform. Suspect was unhoused, moved here recently, and had a history of drug use.
Which drugs: Kraemer told police he’d had a cocktail of alcohol, cannabis and fentanyl pills.
Date: Jan. 3
Location: Portland Korean Church, 933 SW Clay St.
Defendant: Nicolette Fait, 27
Charges: First- and second-degree arson, second-degree burglary
What she’s accused of: Setting fire to a 117-year-old, vacant church, which was so badly damaged it had to be subsequently demolished.
Notable line from charging documents: “Defendant explained that they broke into the church and lit the fire because voices in their head told them they would ‘mutilate’ Defendant if they did not bum the church down.”
Common elements: Suspect was unhoused, moved here recently, and had a history of mental illness and drug use.
Which drugs: Fait told police she was taking 10 oxycodone pills a day to relieve the pain of an injury.