By Jesse Major / Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — When someone brandished pepper spray and stole a young Canadian tourist’s shoes last month, community members decided they wanted to make things right.
A 16-year-old boy was walking back to his hotel room Oct. 6 when a man pulled up on a BMX bike, brandished a can of “bear mace” and demanded the boy’s limited-edition red Air Jordan shoes. The family asked Port Angeles police not to publicize the teen’s name.
After hearing about the incident, community members decided to track down a new pair of shoes that they could return to the young man.
“I think like a lot of people, we were just bummed to hear that happened to someone who came to visit Port Angeles,” said the Rev. Joe DeScala of Mended, who helped. “I — like a lot of people I spoke to — felt for that young man, and we needed to make it right.”
DeScala and Lila Adams teamed up to get the young man a new pair of shoes, which retail at about $200.
The plan was to raise the money to buy the new shoes, but Mended went ahead and purchased the shoes before all the money was raised.
“We ordered the shoes just to get them coming,” DeScala said.
The shoes arrived late October, and DeScala dropped off the shoes at the Port Angeles Police Department to be shipped to the young man.
Tracking down the shoes wasn’t easy, DeScala said.
He wanted to purchase them locally, but they were nowhere to be found. When he stopped by Athlete’s Choice, he was told they were a limited edition and each store received only a few pairs; they needed to be ordered online.
Adams said it was unacceptable that a visitor to Port Angeles was treated like that.
“I thought we could rally to fix this,” she said.
She set up a bank account at First Federal to collect donations for the shoes and left a card at the police department to be sent to the boy.
She also painted Port Angeles rocks and hid them around town in an effort to raise awareness.
“I really wanted our town to make sure this kid has some new shoes,” she said.
Port Angeles Police Chief Brian Smith said he plans to talk with the boy’s mother to double-check he has the correct address and then he’ll ship the shoes.
He has spoken to the mother once already, and she was appreciative of the effort, he said.
“This reminds me of why I live in Port Angeles,” Smith said. “We have a lot of great people who on their own come together to help someone.”
No arrest had been made as of Oct. 27.
DeScala said he has heard a lot of negative comments about the person who stole the shoes, but he believes people should focus on the positive.
“I think there’s a lot more good out there, and this is just an example that no matter how much bad there is, people will do the right thing,” he said.