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Driftwood assault may lead to life sentence for Oak Harbor man

An Oak Harbor man may be facing his “third strike” for allegedly attacking two strangers with a piece of driftwood in an unbalanced attempt to protect the community, according to court documents.

Eric P. Raster, 31, pleaded not guilty in Island County Superior Court Monday to two counts of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and one count of fourth-degree assault.

Raster is being held in jail in lieu of $2 million bail.

Raster is accused of attacking people who were camping Aug. 23 at the city’s RV park on South Beeksma Drive.

The alleged victims said they saw Raster, who seemed “out of it,” while they were walking on the beach, according to the police report. The trio said Raster followed them as they returned to the campsite.

Raster suddenly sprinted to the campsite and hit one of the men in the head with a piece of driftwood. He chased the other man around, swinging at him with the wood, while the women screamed for help, the police report states.

The woman later identified Raster from a photo line-up.

Two days later, a deputy arrested Raster after responding to a prowler complaint on Shorecrest Drive. At the police station, Raster allegedly admitted to hitting one of the campers with a stick, the report states.

Raster said he did it because he thought he “was protecting the community,” the officer wrote. Officer Lisa Powers-Rang asked him what he meant, but he just “started staring, thousand yard stare, at the wall.”

Later that day, Raster allegedly attacked a cell mate, punching the man until blood was splattered all over the man’s face, clothes and the floor of the cell, the report states.

Raster told a corrections officer that he was doing “God’s work.”

Raster was charged earlier this year after he allegedly crashed his car through barriers during the city’s Holland Happening event, forcing pedestrians to flee as he drove past vendor tents on the closed-off road, according to court documents. In that case, Raster allegedly admitted to snorting methamphetamine prior to the dangerous joyride.

He was charged with attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle, DUI and hit and run, but the case is still ongoing.

If convicted of the charges against him, Raster could face a life sentence under the state’s “third strike” law. Court documents state that his criminal history consists of eight felonies, including robbery, burglary and assault.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said he doesn’t know yet whether Raster will be evaluated by a mental health expert.

 

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