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A 23-year-old man carrying an airsoft rifle and pointing it at people in downtown Portland in early August pleaded guilty Thursday to unlawful use of a weapon and menacing.
Mark Allen Lee was sentenced to two years of probation on the menacing charge, a misdemeanor, with a list of conditions, including the order that he possess no guns, airsoft weapons or bear spray. He’s also required to complete 80 hours of community service.
Sentencing for the weapons conviction, a felony, was set over for a year and will largely rest on how Lee complies with the conditions of his probation.
He could withdraw his plea to the felony and the charge would be dismissed if he follows the conditions, but if he violates any of them, he’ll face 30 days in jail and three years of probation, according to court records.
Lee caused public alarm on Aug. 8 as he walked through downtown streets holding the rifle after right-wing and left-wing demonstrators clashed earlier at a gathering in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. He was wearing a military-style tactical vest and camouflage clothing at the time. Police had remained out of sight throughout the day and night.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Demer told Circuit Judge Amy M. Baggio that Lee was walking around downtown with a rifle that looks like an assault rifle.
“There is no message that justifies pointing BB guns and paint-ball guns at people’s faces. This can be a serious crime. Besides terrifying people, particularly when the gun is modified to look real and less like a toy, there is a risk of a life-changing injury to the eyes. Fortunately, no one here was physically hurt,” Demer said.
Close to 11 p.m. that day, several journalists and observers captured Lee in photos and video carrying what many described at the time as an AR-15 rifle.
The images showed Lee pointing what turned out to be an airsoft rifle in the direction of at least two people -- a bystander and a journalist.
Police said Lee called 911 claiming several people were following him and he was told to walk to the Police Bureau’s nearby Central Precinct.
Lee went up to police with his hands on his head and officers confirmed he had a replica gun, police said. The gun was attached to a strap slung across his torso. Airsoft sports guns are designed to shoot projectiles often made of plastic.
Lee told Portland police Officer Bradley Browning that when he heard there was a “protest against Antifa” at the waterfront in Portland, he equipped himself with tactical gear, eight knives and an AR-15 airsoft rifle, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court.
Lee agreed to plea to both the felony and misdemeanor charges before prosecutors took the case to a grand jury to obtain an indictment. He did not make a statement in court. His lawyer, Martin Gibson, declined comment.
The court-ordered conditions spell out that Lee must not possess any gun or any device that can shoot airsoft pellets, BBs or paintballs or possess bear spray, pepper spray or mace. He also must immediately leave any gathering in Multnomah County once a police agency has declared a riot or unlawful assembly.
It includes a long list of things he cannot have at any public gathering: a gun, airsoft device, device designed to project BBs, a paintball device, paint, spray paint, a hammer, burglary tool, rocks, balloons filled with any liquid, frozen water bottles, water bottles containing any liquid other than water, sling shot, fireworks, laser pointers, bear spray canisters, expandable batons, containers of flammable liquid or any incendiary devices.
He also was ordered not to block traffic, not jaywalk but use a crosswalk, and if driving, stick to lanes of traffic.
Lee has no prior criminal convictions but faced a restraining order in Multnomah County at the time of his Aug. 8 arrest. The restraining order was signed by a judge just five days earlier, on Aug. 3, 2021, and prohibited him from possessing or purchasing any firearms or ammunition, according to court records. A woman who sought the restraining order wrote of Allen’s “anger out bursts,” said he owned airsoft and BB guns, and “always has a knife on him,” according to her restraining order petition.
-- Maxine Bernstein
Email [email protected]; 503-221-8212
Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian
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