By Joseph Rose, The Oregonian
January 04, 2010, 10:13AM
Some TriMet bus riders listen to music. Others read the newspaper.
But 22-year-old Jared Weston Walter, police say, passed time on the No. 33 line on New Year's Eve by sneakily cutting another passenger's hair with scissors.
The woman who called 9-1-1 to report the TriMet barber didn't even know that the man sitting behind her had snipped off chunks of her hair until she stepped off the bus in Milwaukie, transit police said.
Police arrested Walter on the bus and booked him into the Multnomah County jail on accusations of two counts of third-degree robbery, four counts of interfering with public transit, two counts of second-degree disorderly conduct and two counts of harassment.
Clackamas County authorities said they also are investigating whether Walter was connected to earlier reports of harassing women by putting glue in their hair.
Walter earlier was convicted in Texas of burglary with intent to commit a sex crime. He also has an outstanding warrant on an assault charge in King County, Wash., in connection with a hair-gluing incident.
Bekki Witt, a TriMet spokeswoman, didn't have details about the charges, but said four "hair-cutting incidents" -- including one that involved superglue -- have been reported in the past six weeks.
"I don't know if they are all connected," Witt said, "but I think we can probably assume it's the same person. It's a pretty unusual activity."
Indeed, transit police say they can't recall another "assault" as strange as this one on a bus.
Walter was cited in December, days prior to the hair-cutting charges, for not having proper fare to ride a bus.
The incident on the No. 33 line happened in mid-afternoon. Walter was taken into custody at the Milwaukie Transit Center. Witt didn't know how the passenger realized realized her hair had been cut.
Few people waiting for buses downtown this afternoon had heard read about the hair-cutting incidents.
Tanya Siroshton of Southeast Portland had a hard time believing it at first.
"Really?" she said, crinkling her nose in disgust. "What a strange thing to do. The worst I've encountered is people who smell really bad."
Julie Flanagan, a Portland State University graduate student who moved to Portland from South Carolina three months ago, said she doesn't like the idea of people sitting behind her on the bus. She has even developed strategies to finding a seat whenever she boards a bus.
She prefers to sit against the windows, near the front, or in the very back. Otherwise, she'd prefer to stand.
"There are the coughers and the heavy breathers," Flanagan said. "I don't want sit in front of them."
And now this.
Flanagan, whose long brown hair hung over shoulders, said the idea of snipping at her hair on the bus gave her "the creeps."
"That's terrifying," she said. "I'd be pretty angry."
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