Attacker Who Allegedly Chewed Off Man’s Ear Ruled Mentally Unfit to Stand Trial

Koryn Kraemer will be sent to Oregon State Hospital for treatment.

ONWARD AND UPWARD: Exiting a MAX platform in Southeast Portland. (Blake Benard)

A Multnomah County circuit judge has ruled Koryn Kraemer, 25, unfit to aid and assist in his own defense, and sent him to Oregon State Hospital to be treated for mental illness.

In the early morning of Jan. 3, Kraemer “chewed off” the ear and part of the face of Gary Krussow, 78, on a Gresham MAX platform, according to prosecutors. Kraemer told police his name was “El Baker,” he’d consumed alcohol, cannabis and fentanyl pills, and he believed the victim was a robot trying to kill him.

Kraemer was charged with second-degree assault and later banned from TriMet for life. He was given a preliminary diagnosis of schizophrenia and treated with medication while in jail.

TriMet is “planning to increase strategic security and code enforcement missions at Cleveland Avenue and elsewhere,” said its spokeswoman, Roberta Altstadt.

A spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which patrols TriMet’s system, called the attack “very disturbing” and an “isolated incident.” Calls for service in the East Transit District, which includes the MAX station where the attack occurred, dropped 18% in 2022 from the prior year, the spokesman, Chris Liedle, noted.

Kraemer was born in Westfield, N.J., and played goalie for the varsity soccer team while at Oberlin College in Ohio. He had recently moved to Portland from Georgia, according to Gresham police.

Judge Nan Waller quizzed Kraemer for several minutes Tuesday as he sat slumped in a wheelchair, demanding to be called Mr. Baker. Kraemer said he had been previously hospitalized in four other states, including a lengthy stay in New Jersey.

Waller said he was concerned that Kraemer was not eating. He appeared to be “grossly underweight,” Waller noted.

She ordered the sheriff’s office to transport Kraemer to Oregon State Hospital. In recent years, that process has taken weeks as authorities await an open bed at the overflowing hospital, a situation advocates decry as unconstitutional as mentally ill inmates sit in jail with little access to treatment.

The hospital has begun releasing patients early in an effort to free up beds for new patients like Kraemer.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.