Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Sandy Ridge trail users report confrontations with mace-toting couple – UPDATED

Posted by on March 11th, 2014 at 9:57 am

Sandy Ridge sign

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Users of the popular Sandy Ridge MTB Trail System are speaking out about an unidentified couple they say has repeatedly threatened and assaulted people during and after their bike rides.

According to allegations, an “older couple” has hiked up the mountain bike trails from the parking lot and “accosted” riders.

Members of the Sandy Ridge Trailhead Mountain Bikers Facebook group have been discussing the incidents since last month. One member of the group, Brian F., described an incident he claims took place on February 26th:

“last night the crazy gun toting, bear mace your dog couple struck again to my friend m***** in the lower parking lot. the woman maced ender, the dog… the older man has pulled his weapon on 2 of my friends in the parking lot and the woman carries a can of bear mace, they dont like dogs or bikers and hike the trails.”

Following this incident, the couple was followed home and their address was reportedly handed over to law enforcement.

Another Sandy Ridge trail user we’ve been in contact with via email said several other groups of riders have also had confrontations with this same couple. It’s not clear why the couple is targeting mountain bikers; but some suspect they are particularly annoyed with the riders’ off-leash dogs (UPDATE: We have heard about more incidents and it is now clear they are directing their rage at mountain bike riders in general, and not just dogs).

(It’s worth noting that the Sandy Ridge Trail System was developed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and the Bureau of Land Management specifically as a mountain bike riding area. As such, it has become a very popular regional riding destination and it’s not that common to see people hiking on the trails.)

We first heard about the incidents last week and we are still following up with local authorities to learn more. There are three agencies that have jurisdiction at and around Sandy Ridge: The BLM, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Portland Water Bureau.

The Water Bureau has a stake in Sandy Ridge because of it’s proximity to the Bull Run watershed. Their public information officer, Tim Hall, said he’s been notified by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office about the situation, but so far he’s not aware of any trail users that have come forward to file an official complaint against the couple. Hall confirmed that Water Bureau security guards are aware of mace being used on a dog and officers have interacted with the couple. Hall says the couple hike the trails a lot and “They’re fearful of the dogs going off leash.” Hall added that Water Bureau security officers have passed the case on to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Clackamas County Deputy Sheriff Joshua Griffin told us he’s aware of the incidents in the area; but that there is not active investigation at this time. (Some of the trail users are skeptical about law enforcement getting involved because no one has gotten hurt yet.) We’ve left a message with the Sheriff’s Office public information officer to learn if any other other investigations have been opened.

We’ll continue to follow this case and post updates as warranted.

In the meantime, if you have come in contact with this couple or if you have more information about these incidents, please call the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at (503) 655-8211.

UPDATE, 3/12 at 11:00 am We can now confirm that the CCSO has an open and ongoing investigation into this matter. That being said they urge everyone who has had interactions with this couple to call and file a report.

UPDATE: A reader has shared another encounter with this same couple.

On May 12th 2013 my family and I had a run in with them and I can tell you that friendliness was not on there minds.

I had just gotten to the end of the trail by the yellow gate near the old parking area. I was the first one to the bottom so I turned and looked up the trail to watch the rest of my family come down. I heard the couple yelling so I looked to my right and saw the them walking towards me from the main road. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but my focus was on my daughter her boyfriend and my wife and two dogs who were just coming down. As we exchanged hi fives and started to talk about what a great day it was we herd a fast clicking sound. We looked and saw the woman had a stun gun and was walking towards my dogs.

I have two miniature Australian Shepherds that don’t even weigh 20 pounds each. this woman was not afraid of my dogs she was pursuing them with a weapon.

We yelled at them to leave the dogs alone and then there focus shifted towards us.

They were at this point within a yard or two from us screaming and yelling incoherently when my wife said don’t shock my dogs and the woman then pointed the stun gun at her with her finger on the trigger sparkling it and taking steps towards her. Then my 16 year old daughter yelled leave my mom alone. The woman then went after her.

I had had enough!

I picked up my bike to use as a shield and that’s when the guy pulled the gun and stuck it in my face. I stood there yelling at my family to leave. Once they were clear I started to tell him to relax don’t shoot me. That’s when I noticed his eyes bulging and he was hyperventilating. I walked backwards dragging my bike until I got to the trail that leads back to the big parking lot. I jumped on my bike with my back turned to him expecting to be shot as I road away.

These people are using being afraid of dogs as an excuse to carry out violent confrontations with mountain bikers

The police were called and a few weeks later we went to the police station and did a line up.

It is extremely disappointing to hear that it has happened again.

I can tell you that in no way are these people victims!

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Alex
Guest
Alex

Wsbob and Marcy Houle? I kid…

Rob
Guest
Rob

Ugggghhh, one more reason to hate cat people.

Case
Guest
Case

Brandishing a firearm and no open investigation?

jocko
Guest
jocko

MTBers.
Just get their license plate number and call the cops. These people seem like entitled psychos with nothing to lose, let the authorities take care of these fools.

On a side note, if they have an axe to grind about off leash dogs they should head over to forest park where the pristine wildness of that area is over-run with off leash dogs and not a mountain biker in sight.

Jon
Guest
Jon

While I don’t agree with their methods I really dislike off leash pets also. I know of at least one rider who broke a collar bone after getting tangled up with an off leash dog (not at Sandy Ridge). BLM states: “Pets are allowed on public lands must be on a leash or otherwise controlled when in developed recreation sites. Pets should not create a hazard or nuisance for other visitors or harass wildlife.”
The leash rules are not an excuse for assaulting anyone and these people should be arrested.
If you enjoy riding or hiking and seeing wild life like I do – leave your pet at home or put it on a leash.
I know that if Portland Parks ever wanted to raise some serious $$, all they would have to do is fine people for having their dog off leash in parks land.

Peter R
Guest

Time for the GoPro or Contour footage. If anyone has any, send to the authorities.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

From what Jonathan’s written, it seems like these people have an issue with dogs off leash. Keep ’em on a leash or under _really good_ voice control. Our dog is off leash _at home_. Anywhere else; on leash.

That being said, q’Tzal has a point, these people’s behavior, if left unchecked, is likely to lead to violence against them.

bent
Guest
bent

worth nothing that the trail map clearly has the trails marked as one direction, down, the road is the only way up. so if they are hiking up trails from the lot they are going the wrong way, and putting themselves and the people using the trails in the correct direction in danger. kind of hard to enforce one rule, leash, while you are breaking another.

dave
Guest
dave

Am I the only person who clicked through envisioning a couple in SCA gear prowling Sandy Ridge with a medieval mace?

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Off leash dogs spread noxious weed seed and promote invasive species spreading when running around trail systems. That’s just what I read somewhere.

jocko
Guest
jocko

I have talked with a few people who have encountered these people on the trail and they are very against MTBs on the trails and not just against off leash dogs. Once again just call the cops on people who brandish guns no need to live your chuck norris fantasy.

reader
Guest
reader

This wouldn’t be a problem if all dogs using the trail were required to carry handguns.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Do these people prefer the Motos that used to (actually still do) rip around, all over those hills…?

On a side note. I can’t effing stand people and their goddamned dogs on the trail. Leave them at home. The next dog that takes off from its owner and stands at the bottom of the rock drop when I go off it, is getting punted. I don’t care if it’s a flipping “trail dog”, if it gets tangled in my front wheel or I go down because of it, I’ll sue the living day lights out of the owner AFTER I get the dog put down.

99% of the dogs out there have not been trained to behave properly around bikes, are not under voice control of the owner… They run ahead to other trail users and get in the way or take off after the wrong group then people have to stop their ride and figure out who the damn dog belongs to or, the worst one, the owner takes off and leaves his dog behind on the trail because it’s exhausted from running over rough terrain at top speed all day, so then when you come up behind it, it just trots along with its toingue hanging out and doesn’t yield or it just plain stops in the middle of the trail cause it’s delirious and dehydrated.

Show your damn dogs some respect and get them the training they need! Teach the to stop when you stop and teach them to stop OFF trail. Don’t let them run around and jump all over and bark and dig out rocks and holes from the middle of the trail…! And don’t just take off and ride like you’re in a damned enduro race, leaving your beast to try to hang on, sprinting full tilt behind you, running themselves into the ground. That’s not good for them, they aren’t designed for that.

Show some common sense and show some respect, if not for other users, then at least your animals!

Grimmfan
Guest
Grimmfan

Wesen? I’m thinking either a Hässlich or Lebensauger.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

It is obvious from the update to the main article that the same principle that applies to aggressive dogs (Animal Control won’t do anything until they’ve got multiple complaints) also needs to be applied to some people.
This is the same thuggish behavior some people use to justify their prejudice against youth in poor neighborhoods but it seems violent thuggery is ok if you’re white and old.

mtnbkrid
Guest
mtnbkrid

Wow, good thing it didn’t happen in Florida, the person who held up his bike at the gun toting kook could have been shot and killed. The kook could claim “stand your ground” because he was scared by the bike.

Scott
Guest
Scott

When did bikeportland become a dog bashing forum?

Mike
Guest
Mike

It almost seems that some people are condoning their behavior when it comes to dogs. An off leash dog(unless it is threatening) is no reason to show a gun or mace a dog. It may be annoying but unless your safety is at risk some of you need to chill out.

Mike
Guest
Mike

If people are so pissed about off leash dogs why no hatred for off leash cats? Pooping in my son’s sand box, damn rodents

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Glad to read in the 3/12 update to this story, that CCSO has an open investigation into reports of incidents at the park. Word back soon from the sheriff’s office, hopefully will offer some answers.

Fred
Guest
Fred

First, I hope the police can make an arrest and bring charges on this couple. There is no excuse for using violent means to make a point. What they are doing could potentially lead to a death or serious injury. It seems odd that someone can threaten the life of another with a gun, and no arrest has been made.

Second, those who bring their dogs out to run off leash, despite it being against the rules, it’s potentially dangerous to the dog and other trail users. Simply, you are creating a conflict on the trail that doesn’t need to occur. Please don’t create a problem for other trail users. It’s not fair to your pet or others.

teddy
Guest
teddy

My dad and I were the original builders of tnt and little monkey and we got maced over 4 or 5 years ago. This has been a big problem gor a long time.

Daryl Moistner
Guest

Well…I for one am taking steps and have modified my downhill mt. bike to mitigate any problems I may have if I run into this couple http://www.nevadasurveyor.com/xBB2A0065.jpg

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I have heard that photos of the people were sent to the sheriff, does anyone know if it is possible to see them anywhere? I for one would like to know what they look like for my own future safety.

Hiker Dude
Guest

A woman maced a dog and the guy pulled out a gun? This is already is out of control.

teddy
Guest
teddy

Ok people complaining about dogs need to understand that if the dog is trained properly then there will be no issues. I used to ride with my dog and never once had issues with them being in the way. Honestly she was faster than most the guys we rode with. She never got in the way cause we taught her to know what’s around her.

fivefrud
Guest
fivefrud

wsbob:
“If the investigation finds that the couple believes they didn’t initiate the incidents and we’re instead responding in their own defense, there may not be anything to arrest or charge them with.”

You just wrote that if they are guilty of the Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon, but are so delusional they think it’s self-defense, then they cannot be charged. You should rethink that logic.

Fivefrud
Guest
Fivefrud

Of course mental impairment would affect how they are treated, but you hadn’t said that — you said if they felt they were acting In self defense, then they may not be able to charge them for anything. You can’t get out of felony assault with a deadly weapon charges entirely by simply claiming self-defense.

Manville
Guest
Manville

Sandy Ridge kind of blows anyway. It is the land of the want-to-be fat guy with a 6″ of travel bike that can’t ride up hill. Baggy short wearing fools that stop 30 times on a bike ride. Worst than any dog is the guy that stops on the trail to rest during a bike ride. Enduro killed mountain biking

gl.
Guest
gl.

they’ve been arrested:
http://koin.com/2014/07/02/cantankerous-sandy-ridge-trail-couple-arrested/

“David Gathwright, 60, is charged with unlawful use of a weapon, menacing and pointing a firearm at another, with bail set at $50,000. Pamela Gathwright, 57, is charged with attempted harassment and attempted animal abuse, with bail set at $25,000.”

oregon111
Guest
oregon111

I had a bad dog experience at a beach where a dog charged me and snapped at me….

although it did not bite me, I did get mad and yell at the owner,

please leave your dogs at home — you people are the REAL terrorists…

I don’t want a broken neck mtn biking because YOU are too SELFISH to leave your dog at home — dogs make people fall off of bikes — its NOT cool

off leash dogs should just be shot – end of story

Linda
Guest
Linda

Oregon 111, you’ve missed the point. The Gathwright’s are crazy people. I commend The Hess’s for following thru and getting Gathwright’s convicted before a terrible accident happened: Not from dogs but from the Gathwight’s who were acting like MAD DOGS. Your comment on “Off leash dogs should just be shot_” Is uncalled for. Nothing “owns” the trail. You should always look out for anything that could be on the trail: dogs, people, bears, deer, etc, all share the trail. If you feel that way stay in the city and off the trails. This is a beautiful state for all to enjoy without threatening with guns because YOU had a minor problem with a dog. IT”S NOT COOL!!!!! Now hopefully we can all enjoy this beautiful Sandy Ridge Trail.

Linda
Guest
Linda

wsbob thank you for your correction. Thank goodness the judge didn’t go in the direction of mentally incompetent because then they couldn’t be convicted. Their behavior was inappropriate and a danger to the community. They were found guilty and sentenced on April 1. The news report stated that David G. was sentenced to 90 days in jail & 5 years of probation. Pamela G. was found guilty of 2nd degree animal abuse & sentenced with 5 years probation, community service , & ordered to take animal cruelty prevention class.

While I am relieved the Gathwright’s won’t be on the trail for now. I hope the Garthwrights will understand that how they behaved was wrong. If I was the judge I would have Ms. G do her community service @ the Guide Dog Center so she could see the wonderful work these amazing dogs perform. We all can learn from this and respect each other and this beautiful Mt. Hood area. It does not mean now that dog owners can disrespect others with dogs that do not know how to act on the trail.

Wishing everyone wonderful Mt. biking, walking, hiking while respecting each other & this beautiful place.

Happy Earth Day!

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

No matter what, if you’re a mountain biker its your fault with WSBOB.

Linda
Guest
Linda

Bob, while other names much worse come to mind regarding the Garthrights, which I would never put out on this forum: I shouldn’t have continued with what was first a typo/ Freudian slip, with their name. But being carded for my senior discount today and you indirectly calling me immature makes me feel young again.

But seriously let’s close this chapter on the Garthrights. They were judged and sentenced and now we all have the opportunity to go forward in working towards & continuing SRT as a wonderful place. Sandy Ridge is a beautiful jewel for mountain bikers. People who have dogs need to respect others & their dogs. Yes, we all have a right to defend ourself but let’s be level headed and appropriate in handling situations.

Beautiful place & Happy Trails ~

Big Knobby Ones
Guest
Big Knobby Ones

I read a lot of the comments on this article about the old farts who were threatening cyclists and dogs. One comment talked about what a cute old couple they were. After reading all these comments about the old couple I imagined they were maybe 80 years old. Nope…….57 & 60 per the KOIN article on their arrest. She doesn’t even have gray hair in the mug shot although it may be dyed. Must be a lot of REALLY young commenters above. Explains a lot of comments on BP – very little life experience.
.
Someone said he usually wore a long coat. You can hide more than a handgun under a long coat. Not that you’d need more to confront dogs and cyclists.
.
It does sound like they were a tad nuts; but who knows what happened to them on the trail to piss them off and get them started on their crusade against off-leash dogs. Perhaps an off-leash dog killed one of their pets. Hopefully they will learn a lesson and be able to live more peacefully in the future without going broke because of the arrest record, etc.
.
Yes, off-leash dogs are a problem in any location – a lot of people are afraid of dogs – and a lot of people just don’t want dogs jumping up on them, attacking their pet which may be on a leash, etc, etc, etc………

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Just to clarify:

“…Nobody has claimed they thought …”

…’they’, referring to people reading and commenting to this story and comments to it.