Home » ‘It Was Insane’: Disabled Maine Veteran Says Armed Men From Portland Encampment Robbed Him
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‘It Was Insane’: Disabled Maine Veteran Says Armed Men From Portland Encampment Robbed Him

PORTLAND (WGME) — More and more people in Portland say they want the homeless encampments to end.

Many say they’re tired of the drug use, crime and unsafe conditions that come with them.

One person pushing to end encampments is a disabled veteran.

He often volunteers to help people experiencing homelessness in Portland, some of whom are fellow veterans, but after being robbed by some of the men in an encampment, he says it is no longer safe for the city of Portland to allow these camps to continue.

“I’m a disabled veteran myself, and I work a very hard job,” disabled veteran and robbery victim Peter Bernaiche said. “I bust my butt and pay my taxes just like everybody else.”

Bernaiche usually uses a scooter to get around.

While on his break from his overnight job on Saturday, he says a group of armed men from a homeless encampment stole it.

“I was driving past the encampment there,” Bernaiche said. “And somebody waved me down. So I just stopped to see what’s up, and he asked me if I had a couple of dollars. I said, ‘Sure, I don’t mind,’ and I reached in my pocket.”

That’s when he says five men with machetes and an ax ran out from behind a tent.

He jumped off the scooter and ran as fast as he could with a bad leg.

“It was insane. They were by all means chasing me down, trying to hack at me,” Bernaiche said. “And I was trying to defend myself as they kept chasing me. They got me further and further away from the scooter.”

He saw someone ride his scooter into the encampment.

The next day, he went to look for it, when he says one of the men who attacked him came at him with a hammer.

Portland police intervened.

“I said, ‘That’s the guy with the machete,’” Bernaiche said. “He was the main one who attacked me, and he has the hammer. They see him attacking me with a hammer, and they just let him go.”

He says one officer advised him, for his own safety, not to come back.

“He said, ‘They don’t care about going to jail, and you’re just likely going to end up getting hurt,’” Bernaiche said.

“Enough is Enough” is a group of Portland citizens and businesspeople who say it’s time to end encampments and not allow them to continue to grow.

“If the city enacts this policy, it will truly spread out the encampments around the city,” Enough is Enough Spokesperson Matt Marks said.

Marks says people are tired of the drug use, the discarded needles and having their things stolen.

“I really worry about the people who are there, that are not involved in criminal activity. And then we worry about the people who live along those areas,” Marks said. “Yes, we know there were stolen items, whether it be bikes or propane tanks, pallets, whatever it may be.”

“Anything and everything you can name that could be stolen has been stolen and encamped there,” Bernaiche said. “I mean, it’s just piled to the brim.”

Bernaiche says the scooter is password-protected, so nobody else can use it.

Police have foot patrols in the encampment and say they’re doing their best to try to recover his scooter.

Source : WGME