A Springfield, Oregon, man is facing charges of menacing and other crimes after police officers arrested him on charges of threatening and making racist remarks toward Black people in two separate incidents and breaking a glass door of a downtown business on Thursday, July 8, around 1:30 p.m.
According to a statement from Springfield police spokesperson Kris Seibel, obtained by The Register-Guard, 52-year-old Michael Joseph Schlimmer, who is Asian, threatened a Black man and his girlfriend with a knife near 14thAvenue and Main Street in downtown Springfield. The couple, who were able to get away, told the officers that the man was brandishing a knife and making racist remarks at them. They say they’d never seen Schlimmer before.
Authorities told the outlet that around the same time frame they received another call about a man breaking the glass door of a nearby business, Bobbi’s VIP Room at 1195 Main Street. The suspect’s description fit that of Schlimmer’s, but the individual left the scene before police could arrive. Witnesses told police that Schlimmer crept up behind a Black woman who was not identified but was playing a video lottery game when he whispered in her ear that he would “murder” her. She turned around, she said he threatened her with his fist and acted aggressively.
Schlimmer was later found two blocks away and arrested. He confirmed the allegations made by the victims and witnesses, the police report says. The Lane County district attorney charged Schlimmer the following day, Friday, July 9, with two counts of a first-degree bias crime, four counts of menacing, two counts of second-degree disorderly conduct, unlawful use of a weapon, and criminal mischief.
Oregon statutes define a first-degree bias crime as a bias crime thusly: “A person commits a bias crime in the first degree if the person intentionally, because of the person’s perception of another person’s race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin, places another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.”
Police Chief Andrew Shearer told The Register-Guard in a statement, “This behavior is appalling and will not be tolerated by SPD or the Springfield community. Everyone in our community has the right to be safe.”