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Hate-crime suspect arrested, placed on immigration hold

13 January 2011 General No Comment Email This Post Email This Post

A Gresham man accused of harassing and threatening a local Muslim woman is behind bars for allegedly violating an anti-stalking order.

Gresham police arrested Martin Cervantes-Gracida, 30, of Gresham at his home in the 17400 block of Southeast Stark Street at 6:37 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9.

He also is being held on a United States Immigration hold at the Multnomah County Inverness Jail.

The arrest comes a month after the alleged victim, a 52-year-old woman who lives in the same apartment complex, was granted a protective order against the man.

A Muslim advocacy organization – The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – also requested on Dec. 21 that the FBI investigate a series of alleged hate crimes that led to the anti-stalking order being issued.

FBI Special Agent Craig Mueller is investigating the case after the woman alleged local police did not take seriously her complaints of verbal threats and physical intimidation.

According to court documents, the threats began in early November when the suspect, Cervantes-Gracida, reportedly pushed the woman, trapping her with his body against a wall in their apartment complex’s laundry room.

Two weeks later, he allegedly threatened to shoot her dog and rape her “while you pray with your head on the ground,” the woman reported. He also reportedly confronted her in the parking lot and threatened to kill her, adding, “You snitch, called the cops on me.”

The woman had lived at the complex for a year without any problem until she converted to Islam and began wearing a headscarf.

She also expressed concern that while police helped her, they did not arrest Cervantes-Gracida. She alleges that one police officer told her she should consider not wearing her religious headscarf to avoid angering the neighbor.

Even after obtaining the protective order, strangers tried to open her door and called her daughter to yell profanities over the phone.

After the advocacy group called for an FBI investigation, the Gresham Police Department vowed to review and investigate the case in its entirety and work with the district attorney for possible prosecution. Those cases are still under review by the district attorney’s office, said Capt. Dale Cummins of the Gresham Police Department.

In the latest incident, the woman told police she opened her apartment door to go to the store and saw the suspect standing on the landing in front of her apartment staring at her.

Cummins said Cervantes-Gracida denied stalking the woman, saying he didn’t see her or talk to her. He said he was busy doing laundry that night.

Based on the report, the district attorney’s office has declined to prosecute the case because it can’t be proved the suspect talked to or contacted the woman, Cummins said.

When reached by phone at home, the woman’s adult daughter relayed another incident that allegedly happened on the same night, but that did not appear in the police report, even though she says it was reported to police.

She said that while walking their dogs in the parking lot, the man advanced toward her.

“He was only three or four feet away from me,” said the 29-year-old woman who lives with her mother and also is named in the anti-stalking order. “And he only left when a car pulled in.

“If that car hadn’t come ….” she added, leaving the statement incomplete.

Both mother and daughter hope the arrest of Cervantes-Gracida and the subsequent immigration hold will prevent them from crossing paths again.

“We just want all of this to stop,” the daughter said.

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