Portland salon owner incapacitates man accused of attacking stranger: ‘We have to be in a place where we can save ourselves’

Content Warning: This story includes mention of sexual assault.

A Portland salon owner who heard bloodcurdling screams in the dead of night ran from her business and pepper-sprayed a man, interrupting his attack on a woman who was walking toward his car, court records say.

Daniel J. Delgado, 55, is accused of restraining the woman and sexually assaulting her in the early hours of March 13. Delgado did not know the woman, records show.

He faces charges of first degree sexual abuse, attempted rape, fourth degree assault, robbery and stalking.

Mahriah Zimmerman, owner of Hush Tan on Northeast Broadway, stepped in after encountering the same man, she told The Oregonian/OregonLive. She also gave the same account to authorities, as recounted in a probable cause affidavit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

by Zimmermann social media post about the encounter went viral and she said other women have reached out, saying they believe Delgado was also the man who threatened them that week.

“It was almost me and in minutes it was her,” Zimmerman, 43, said in an interview. “I didn’t do this to be a hero. But I would have hoped someone would have stopped for me.”

After a long day with her 4-year-old son, Zimmerman was restocking supplies in your business when a man, reeking of alcohol, came up and started looking at her from behind a tree, she said.

When he approached, she went into her tent and closed the door, she said.

About three minutes later, Zimmerman said he heard “bloody screams.”

Zimmerman grabbed a can of chemical defense spray and drove for about a block, before seeing the man with his pants around his ankles as he attacked the woman, according to Zimmerman and the affidavit written by Zimmerman. Deputy District Attorney Sean Hughey.

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Zimmerman said he yelled at the woman to keep fighting, then sprayed the man with the spray, allowing the woman to escape to Zimmerman’s car.

The man then ran east on Broadway while Zimmerman dialed 911, he said, before disappearing down Northeast 32nd Avenue, which ends at a crosswalk.

Zimmerman said it finally took him 10 minutes to talk to an emergency dispatcher, so he started driving around the neighborhood and saw the man again outside the Beverly Cleary School.

“I felt really bad about putting the victim back in a situation where I’m chasing the predator,” Zimmerman said. “But at the same time, I just couldn’t let him do that to someone else.”

Zimmerman said the man ran up and started hitting her car after she started following him. The salon owner said she discharged enough chemical spray that the man collapsed to the ground near a gas station on Northeast 33rd Avenue.

Passing drivers ignored Zimmerman’s frantic honking, he said, but eventually one pulled over and people in the car stood guard to make sure the man didn’t try to flee again.

Police arrested Delgado there.

After his arrest, Delgado told a detective that he had promised God to remain celibate and admitted that the woman had said “no” while on the ground, according to the affidavit.

“I made a vow to God and of course I just broke it. And that will bring me…trouble,” he said, according to the affidavit.

Zimmerman said the experience has left her shaken and unable to work. She has also been frustrated with the Portland Police Bureausaying a detective promised to give her and her employees self-defense classes and counseling, but that hasn’t happened.

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A detective told her to delete the post from social media, Zimmerman said, but she wants the story published so Portlanders can learn to protect themselves.

“Buy your daughters Mace, buy yourself a Mace, buy your daughter’s friends a Mace,” he said. “We have to be in a place where we can save ourselves.”

A police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Delgado remains in custody without bond.

—Zane Sparling; [email protected]; 503-319-7083; @pdxzane