Police say a 28-year-old homeless man made racial threats toward an African American woman who was walking with her infant in Vancouver and grabbed the woman’s stroller, threatening to sexually assault her and take her baby.
Austin James Lansdon appeared Tuesday morning in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of two counts each of malicious harassment and unlawful imprisonment. In Washington, hate crimes are charged as malicious harassment. Lansdon was booked Monday into the Clark County Jail.
Judge Bernard Veljacic set Lansdon’s bail at $30,000, which was the state’s requested amount.
Deputy Prosecutor Julie Carmena noted that Lansdon has a handful of prior convictions — malicious mischief, DUI and domestic violence-related harassment, among others — as well as multiple violations of no-contact orders.
Lansdon shook his head when Carmena told the judge about the violations, but he did not react further or speak during the brief hearing.
Veljacic also granted an anti-harassment order to protect the victim named in the allegations.
Police were called at 6:35 p.m. Aug. 18 to the 4000 block of Main Street. The woman, 24, told police she was walking when a stranger approached her, began yelling racial slurs and made threats of physical violence toward her and her 3-month-old daughter.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the woman was walking to a grocery store when she encountered a man on the west side of Main Street. She tried to move her stroller to the side of the sidewalk to make room for the man, but he started yelling racial epithets at her, grabbed onto her stroller and prevented her from leaving.
That’s when the man told the woman, “(Expletive), I am going to rape you right now and take your baby,” the affidavit says.
A motorist stopped to help, and the man let go of the stroller and walked away, police said.
When the motorist and attacker left, the woman continued south on Main Street and started to call her husband when she realized the man “was running toward her and in turn, she began to run from the male with her stroller,” the affidavit says.
She was able to run across the street and call 911, according to police.
The woman told police the man was wearing a large backpack, which later helped an investigating officer identify Lansdon in video surveillance recorded on the day of the attack, court records state. Lansdon was apprehended Monday near the 800 block of C Street by an officer who “immediately recognized the distinctive backpack,” the court document states.
Detectives would like to speak with the motorist who offered help and any other possible witnesses. Anyone with information is asked to call Vancouver police Detective Dustin Goudschaal at 360-487-7436.