Neighbor armed with knife terrorized families for months and wasn’t evicted, suit says

Two families living at an Oregon apartment complex were relentlessly terrorized by a neighbor accused of showing up at their doors with a knife, threatening to kill them last summer, a new lawsuit says.

The harassment was captured on both families’ Ring doorbell camera footage and went on because management at The Landings at Morrison in Gresham and police wouldn’t intervene, despite receiving several reports, according to a complaint filed June 27.

Now the families are suing and seeking $6 million in damages.

In a statement to McClatchy News on July 3, the families’ attorney Greg Kafoury said that for nearly three months, “corporate landlords and Gresham police dismissed their pleas for help.”

Sarah Cagann, a city spokeswoman, declined a request for comment from McClatchy News on July 3 due to the active litigation. The Gresham Police Department and The Landings at Morrison didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

It began June 29, 2023, when Dominic Austin, the families’ 19-year-old neighbor, arrived outside an apartment where a mother and daughter lived and threw “an air punch at their door” and used “a racial slur,” the complaint says.

This incident was captured on their Ring camera, and they provided the footage to the apartment complex, according to the complaint.

The next day, Austin returned to their door with a knife, saying, “Why don’t you stop being a (expletive),” according to the complaint, which says one of the women called 911 to make a police report.

Austin tried to break into another apartment, where a pregnant woman lived with her husband and their 2-year-old son, that same day — causing the family to buy and install a Ring camera, the complaint says.

He was recorded visiting their door and the other family’s door for the next few months, making threats and coming by with a knife, according to the complaint, which says he used multiple racial slurs against the families.

‘No actions were taken’

The evening of July 28, Austin paced outside of the apartment of the woman, who was seven months pregnant, holding a knife, the complaint says. In a Ring video provided to McClatchy News by the families’ legal counsel, Austin is seen with the weapon, walking up to her door and throwing a punch.

Then, he’s heard saying: “Do you want to get paralyzed (expletive)? … You’re lucky to be alive.”

The woman emailed the apartment complex about the threats, shared the Ring video footage and made police reports — but “no actions were taken,” the complaint says.

Both families lived in fear as the apartment complex failed to evict Austin, according to the complaint.

After both families said he threatened to kill them and repeatedly showed up at their doors with a knife, the apartment complex sent a notice to Austin and his father, whom he lived with, and demanded that they “vacate” their residence by Sept. 13, the complaint says.

However, Austin was still there Sept. 15, when he showed up at the mother and daughter’s apartment and tried to break in, according to the complaint.

“When he found the door locked he slashed and stabbed the knife at the door,” threatened to rape the daughter and said “you are about to get murdered,” the complaint says.

Austin was arrested Sept. 19, according to the complaint, which names the city of Gresham and The Landings at Morrison as defendants.

“The defendants ignored our clients’ phone calls, emails, and videos showing their deranged fellow tenant repeatedly wielding a knife, threatening them, and trying to break into their homes,” Kafoury said. “Fortunately, the clients live in a society that has civil jury trials. It is only before a jury that these powerful defendants will be held to account.”

Austin was indicted on 33 charges in connection with the harassment, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office announced Oct. 2.

Since then, he was assessed as unfit to go to trial by mental health professionals, causing the case to be delayed, OregonLive reported.

An attorney representing Austin in the criminal case didn’t immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on July 3.

A hearing on Austin’s fitness to proceed is scheduled for July 16, court records show.

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