Standoff in Portland's West End Latest in String of Frightening Incidents

Overall crime in Portland has fallen 5% from 2020, but cases of aggravated assault have climbed 12%, police said

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People living in the West End of Portland, Maine, are still changing their routines after a yearlong string of violent attacks and frightening incidents.

The latest high-profile occurrence that resulted in criminal charges was an hourslong standoff outside an apartment building on State Street Sunday that closed various roads.

Two men were arrested at the standoff's conclusion.

It began after witnesses reported that someone in the area was pointing a handgun at passing traffic.

"It's not a very common thing to happen in Portland, it was definitely surprising," said Alex Read, who was in the process of moving into a new apartment in the West End after living in another part of the city recently.

"When it's happening in Portland, it's this reality people fear," said Julia Leslie, who has lived in the neighborhood for two years.

The standoff adds to a list of disturbing or violent incidents that stretch back to October 2020.

They include reports of women being followed or attacked in October and December of last year, another woman being randomly punched in the face in May 2021, a woman hit from behind with a blunt object this past June, a woman followed by a man in a car this past August and a shooting near an elementary school in October 2021.

A woman was attacked in Portland, Maine, just blocks from where another woman was punched in the face about a month ago.

"People sometimes on Instagram are sharing information about it," said Leslie, explaining that she now regularly keeps track of notices of incidents online and social media posts related to them.

"We definitely don't just walk home alone," said Lauren Saxon, another West End resident, who explained that she and Leslie routinely travel together at night for their safety.

Other women have told NECN in previous interviews that they have modified their routines in response to the incidents.

Asked about what precautions people should take, Portland police spokesman David Singer said the department continues to "advise people to stay vigilant in any situation where they are traveling alone or in an isolated area by themselves for an extended period of time. That includes having a situational awareness of your surroundings as well as a phone or reasonable access to make an emergency call."

According to Singer, overall crime in Portland has fallen 5% from 2020, but cases of aggravated assault have climbed 12%.

Police are investigating random attacks against lone woman in the city's West End.

Robberies have fallen by 46% but car theft has increased by 20%. Shootings in the city have also increased by an exact statistic that was not immediately available from the department.

No matter the numbers, West End residents say they're hopeful that, after a year of reports of lurking, following and assaults, the brutal and frightening incidents stop. They said that the city needs to continue taking action to make sure that happens.

"It an issue that seems to be exacerbated by people not getting the services they need," Leslie said.

"I've never been concerned about Portland. I'm hoping whatever these events are, they're outliers," Read said.

"We've been in Portland for years... hopefully it'll pass," Saxon said.

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