Nearly a year ago, a man dressed from head to toe in red Lycra wearing a black mask over his eyes and carrying a black shield with the letters GS on it, stepped out his front door in Beaverton.
“It was the scariest thing,” he said. He asked himself, “Am I nuts?”
After each step, the man said to himself, “I could go back now.”
But he didn’t, and the superhero Guardian Shield was officially born. He has taken it upon himself to patrol his neighborhood and those nearby to ensure they stay safe.
If people had made fun of him that first day, Guardian Shield said he would have given it up, but they didn’t. “For every hater, there are 50 (supporters),” he said, noting that he is occasionally cussed at or spit on.
Guardian Shield asked that the name of his mild-mannered alter ego not be made public for his safety.
“When you’re the only one doing this, you can’t hide in the crowd,” he said. “It puts a bull’s-eye on you and anyone you associate with.”
Given social media, Guardian Shield said people will figure it out eventually.
Guardian Shield is almost as popular as Mr. Incredible. During a late night patrol Oct. 29, people went out of their way to say “hi” or have their pictures taken with him. His popularity rocketed after a local news station earlier in the week featured him. A gregarious, personable guy, he loves the attention.
“It’s nice to have someone walk you home,” said Lauren Ofenham, a resident, who stopped to chat with the superhero.
Guardian Shield said he isn’t out to start fights or challenge an archenemy to a battle; he’s not that kind of superhero.
Guardian Shield Beaverton superhero instructs a future sidekick “I’m out here to de-escalate (problems),” he said.
Carrying a ballistic shield and wearing a ballistic vest under his Lycra outfit, Guardian Shield is a new, quirky approach to neighborhood watch.
“I got tired of people putting videos up (of crimes) and nobody is doing anything to help,” he said. “If I can be in the right place, I know CPR and first aid. I’m the ultimate first responder.”
Guardian Shield, 34, is an Oregon native. He grew up in Aurora and moved to Beaverton a year ago after a stint in the military. He works in the fitness industry, he said. As for his family, he said, “that’s classified.”
The superhero idea came to him after learning in 2006 about a national movement of “real life” superheroes who patrol city streets. The Rain City Superhero Movement in Seattle was featured by CNN in 2013. One of the superheroes, Phoenix Jones, wears a $10,000 Kevlar suit. Guardian Shield wears about $2,000 worth of equipment.
His superhero outfit is a combination of Mr. Incredible, Captain America and The Phantom. He draws comic book characters and said he designed the costume, but he doesn’t sew. So, he ordered the pieces and put them together. He did a little stitching to attach a hood to the body of the suit. He wears lacrosse shoulder and knee pads, military boots and motorcycle gloves. He carries a video camera, a police baton, pepper spray, dog spray, a flashlight and a cell phone.
He uses the flashlight constantly, lighting dark areas around garages and bushes as he patrols. He has pulled his pepper spray but hasn’t used it. He has, however, used his cell phone to dial 911.
During his first week on patrol Guardian Shield said he heard crashing and screaming. He had come across a domestic violence situation and immediately called police. Most of the time, however, he’s looking for people breaking into cars or storage units. He will also escort people to their doors in the dark.
He walks about nine miles during his patrols, which begin at 10 p.m. and ends at 1 or 2 a.m. The patrols carry him from the Cedar Crest Apartments on Southwest Farmington in Aloha to neighborhoods near St. Mary’s Woods Apartments two or three times a week. He isn’t contracted or paid.
“I do this on my own,” he said. “I’m just a concerned citizen.”
Lately, a few people have shown interest in becoming Guardian Shield sidekicks. A woman, who plans to call herself Rowan, joined the patrol last Thursday in a hoodie. She hasn’t made her costume yet.
“I want to be active in my community,” she said. “And I like to dress up.”
Guardian Shield said he loves the idea of a sidekick, but he wants to make sure they’ve got the right temperament. He doesn’t want people who spark fights.
“You can’t just walk out there and throw your weight around,” he said.
As he says on his Facebook page, “Until next time Beaverton, stay vigilant, stay safe. Shield out.”
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