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Downtown Bend punch brings back safety conversation


A Bend business owner was punched in the face in front of the downtown Starbucks on Monday, putting a new spotlight on a familiar issue.

NewsChannel 21 heard about the incident from a viewer and police confirmed that a homeless man did punch the man at that location.

The man who was struck, Matt Paine, has lived in Bend since 2002 and owns a number of businesses in town.

He said Tuesday he was about to walk into the Starbucks when he saw some sort of argument happening between a coffee shop employee and the homeless man.

Paine said he stepped in to help, and then man jumped up and punched him in the face.

After the man punched him, Paine was able to get away. The suspect ran away, taking Paine’s glasses with him. Officers quickly arrived, taking statements from witnesses.

The encounter left Paine with a black eye and three stitches. He’s also had two CT scans.

Paine said his and his employee’s livelihood is dependent on the success of downtown, and Monday’s incident is indicative of a larger problem that needs addressing.

“Yeah I’d rather not get punched in the face,” Paine said, “but all things considered, I’d much rather it be me than a young person or a child, or frankly a tourist, because my livelihood and in some ways everyone’s livelihood through extension depends on people coming to Central Oregon and having a great time and going home and telling their friends what a great time they had, and I’m not going to let someone take that away from me.”

Paine said he does think safety has improved in downtown Bend, but it’s not where it needs to be.

NewsChannel 21 has covered downtown safety issues several times before, and since then, a number of issues have been addressed. A Bend Police substation has been added downtown. Also, walls around the Mirror Pond parking lot garbage containers have been removed.

Bend Police Lt. Jason Maniscalco said police have been working with the community to implement several strategies to address downtown safety. Those include increasing officer presence with foot patrols in the downtown corridor, improving lighting in the parking garage, installing safety cameras downtown and adding that new downtown police substation.

NewsChannel 21 tried to speak Tuesday with eight downtown Bend businesses, most of which said they thought safety had improved, but none were willing to talk on-camera. Also, representatives of the Downtown Bend Business Association said they didn’t want to talk about safety issues on-camera.

NewsChannel 21 also reached out to three city council members but the council was in an all-day goal-setting session and none were available for an interview.

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