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Nov. 29, 2020

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Kalama man sentenced to 3 months in jail for harassing group from Vancouver at beach

Conviction means he can no longer own, possess firearms

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter

A Kalama man was sentenced Friday in Cowlitz County Superior Court to three months in jail on a felony harassment charge for brandishing a gun while chasing four Black people from a beach on or at the edge of his property.

Dean A. Schrader, 76, was also ordered to a year of community custody and to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. He’d been drinking before the harassment incident and appeared to be intoxicated during his arrest, according to Deputy Prosecutor Eric Bentson. Schrader has no criminal record, attorneys said.

A jury found Schrader guilty at the conclusion of a trial last week, court records show.

The sentence was an agreement between parties. The victims allowed that agreement to include dropping a firearm enhancement tied to the harassment charge. If the enhancement had not been removed, Schrader could have been sentenced to two years in prison.

Bentson said that Schrader’s victims feared for their lives, and the defendant used his weapon to push an advantage over the group of young adults.

“They’re decent people, so they’re not pushing their advantage now,” Bentson said.

One of the four victims chased by Schrader, who is white, at the beach near Tidewater Drive on June 3 previously told The Columbian he was shocked over the terrifying event, partly because he’d never experienced deadly threats there, or throughout his entire life living in Vancouver.

Nehemiah Polk-Rasheed, who was 20 at the time of the incident, said he, his girlfriend and two other friends were visiting the area when they decided to go to a nearby beach with a good view of the Columbia River. He said it was a spot he’d been to before.

The group was taking in the view when a woman approached them and asked why they were there, Polk-Rasheed said. The woman told them to steer clear of her parents, laughed and walked off, he said.

About 10 minutes later, the group found itself confronted by a man armed with a shotgun, said Cowlitz Deputy Craig Murray.

The man was standing in the bushes when he pointed a gun and said something to the effect of, “It’s a good day to die,” Polk-Rasheed said.

The group ran, and the man continued to pursue them in a red truck, from which he fired his weapon several times, Polk-Rasheed said. They ran about 100 yards on gravel and over railroad tracks.

Schrader told deputies the group had trespassed through his property to access the river, and he fired a shot in the air after they fled; he admitted that he did not tell the group they had been trespassing, according to the sheriff’s office. (The public has access to the river up to the high-tide mark.)

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office arrested Schrader and served a search warrant on his residence a day after the incident. Deputies reported at the time that they recovered a shotgun believed to have been used in the confrontation.

Bentson reiterated during his sentencing remarks that the group was never asked to leave, so they did not understand why they were being threatened and pursued.

“It’s reasonable to ask someone to leave. What he did was not appropriate or lawful,” Bentson said.

Sameayah Pehlke, another victim, said at sentencing that she feared for her life as she ran from Schrader, who lives next to her grandparents. She was out of work for weeks and afraid to leave the house because of what happened, she said.

Pehlke said she was brought up to be compassionate, and that’s what the group intended by allowing the firearm enhancement to be dropped.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Pehlke said.

Judge Patricia Fassett said there was conflicting testimony between parties at the trial, but regardless of how the facts were presented, Schrader’s actions could be interpreted as a threat to kill.

Schrader declined to comment before being sentenced, although he did ask several questions about his firearms once the punishment had been imposed.

His conviction means he is no longer allowed to own or possess firearms.