Police Find No Bias, Terror Motive in Portland Road Rampage

An Oregon man accused of a speeding rampage through the quiet, shop-lined streets of Southeast Portland on Monday faces murder and assault charges.

A wrecked vehicle is seen after a driver struck and injured at least five people over a 20-block stretch of Southeast Portland, Ore., before crashing and fleeing on Monday, according to witnesses. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Oregon prosecutors announced charges against the man accused of mowing down 10 pedestrians and cyclists in Portland on Monday, leaving one woman dead.

Paul Rivas, 64, faces charges of second-degree murder, six counts of second-degree assault, six counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver, resulting in injury and one count resulting in death. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said in its announcement late last night that additional charges are being considered.

On Monday afternoon, Rivas careened through a busy Southeast Portland neighborhood, running over the sidewalk and hitting people several times in different spots spanning 20 blocks, before finally crashing at 18th and Stark. Rivas tried to run from the scene, but people there “corralled him” until authorities arrived, according to police.

One woman Rivas hit, 77-year-old Jean Gerich, died of her injuries on Monday. Gerich, a mother of two with five grandchildren, had beaten cancer and was out enjoying the sunny winter day after having gotten her first vaccination shot for Covid-19 one week earlier.

“She was overjoyed to be out in the world again,” Gerich’s family said in a statement.

Of the 10 people Rivas hit, two were cyclists, seven were pedestrians, and one can’t remember if they were standing or in their vehicle when they were hit because of the head trauma they suffered. Six of the people hit went to the hospital on Monday, but police said most of them had suffered only minor injuries and were recovering.

Multiple people called 911 between noon and 1:00 p.m. Monday, first reporting someone driving erratically, speeding at 60 miles per hour in quiet neighborhood streets and narrowly missing pedestrians. At 1:02 p.m., the first call came in reporting the driver had hit someone. Police said multiple crime scenes span the area between Southeast 15th Avenue and Cesar Chavez Boulevard and between Burnside and Belmont streets.

After arresting Rivas, police took him to a hospital where he spent two days before being booked into jail. Police have not yet released the results of a toxicology test but detectives don’t believe the rampage was politically motivated and did not find indicators showing it was a bias crime or an act of terrorism.

“We are committed to a full investigation so that the person involved can be held accountable for these senseless acts of violence,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement.

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