Priscilla Dang was matter-of-fact in recounting her decision to fight off two teenagers who allegedly accosted her, one of whom swatted her butt, as she was jogging along the Padden Parkway path.
The 23-year-old Vancouver woman has taken martial arts classes since she was 5, has three brothers and has always felt compelled to stand up for herself.
“I hate when men think they can do that stuff,” Dang said on Thursday. “There was no question.”
Standing a wiry 5 feet 4 inches tall, she said she works out almost every day in addition to her regular Wushu martial arts training in Clackamas, Ore., so she knew she could take them on.
“They messed with the wrong person,” she said.
The alleged butt-slapping turned confrontation started the afternoon of June 14 as Dang was jogging her usual 5-mile run on the path along Padden Parkway just east of Andresen Road. The two boys rode by on bikes, and one of them distracted her, smiling at her, as the second teenager rode up close, swatting her firmly on the buttocks, she said.
Instantly, Dang said she pushed that boy to the ground with her elbow. “You need to apologize. You don’t do that around here,” she told him.
She said the boy apologized, but then the second boy called her a derogatory term.
That’s when she said she hit him, and he responded by taking off his backpack and getting off his bike to fight her. He threw some punches, but she was able to dodge them, she said.
Then, he took out a pocketknife.
“My first instinct was that I looked for a weapon,” she recalled.
She picked up the teen’s bicycle, holding it like a shield. Just then, a passing car pulled over and a man jumped out. Dang said she ran toward the man, yelling that the teen had a knife. The man shouted to another person in the car to call 911.
As the boys rode off, a sheriff’s deputy searching the area quickly found them. The 18-year-old accused of slapping Dang on the butt, Josiah Sullivan, was booked in jail on suspicion of fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor. He has since been released. The deputy referred charges of displaying a dangerous weapon against the 16-year-old, but did not take him into custody.
Dang, who lives near Padden Parkway and has jogged on the path for three years, said she’s now uneasy to take her usual runs there. The path is normally well-frequented by walkers and joggers and she’s never had any problems before. Still, she said she’s worried she’ll run into the teenagers.
“I haven’t run since,” she said.
Still, the Portland native who works nights at the post office anticipates eventually getting back into her running routine.
She said she instinctively knew she had to fight back, but wouldn’t recommend it for other women, especially if they don’t have self-defense or martial arts training.
“If I didn’t have that kind of background, I wouldn’t have,” Dang said. “I’m glad it happened to me and not someone else.”
“Something snapped in me,” she added. “Especially when I go out in bars and see women treated like that.”