Portland Police: No Terrorism Motive or Evidence of Bias After Driver Mowed Down Pedestrians

Courtesy: Jonathan Rendon / KGW News

PORTLAND, Ore. — The man who drove onto sidewalks in Portland Monday, injuring nine and killing one, was not motivated by politics, terrorism or bias, police say. Video has also emerged showing good Samaritans help corral the driver until police arrived.

Most victims suffered minor injuries and are recovering. Two of the victims were cyclists and six were pedestrians.

The deceased victim has been identified as 77 year-old Jean Gerich of Portland.

Jean’s family provided the photos of Jean and the following statement:

“Jean Gerich was not a nameless victim. She was a loving mother of two. She was a proud grandmother of five, ages 4 to 16. She would have turned 78 in twelve days. She beat cancer five years ago. She received her first vaccination shot last week and was overjoyed to get out in the world again. She has lived in the city of Portland since 1972 and for those 48 years she has loved her community of friends, Forest Park, and the proximity to nature.

We are grateful for the good Samaritans who were at the scene.

The family asks for privacy at this time.”

The first call about the erratic driving was reported at about 12:00 p.m., and occurred near the area of Southeast 26th Avenue and Southeast Stark Street. A witness reported seeing the suspect vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed and narrowly missing a pedestrian. Another call came in at about 1:00 p.m. regarding the vehicle driving recklessly in the area of Southeast 36th Avenue and Southeast Oak Street. The first call of a victim struck came at 1:02 p.m. where the driver hit a pedestrian in the area of Southeast 33rd Avenue and Southeast Pine Street. Additional witness reports indicate the suspect was traveling 50-60 mph in other parts of the neighborhood as he continued with his erratic driving.

Detectives believe the crime scene covers the area between Southeast Cesar E. Chavez Blvd and Southeast 15th Avenue, from East Burnside Street to Southeast Belmont Street. Detectives are still checking dispatch records for additional calls that may have come in regarding the suspect vehicle.

The suspect was transported to an area hospital, where he remains. Detectives say they “did not find evidence that this was an act of terrorism. Detectives did not find bias indicators, nor do they believe this is politically motivated. Detectives say that the driver’s actions did show intent to hit and injure people.” Traffic investigators who assisted with the scene did receive a blood draw from the driver, which will be sent a lab for analysis.

The driver’s name and charges will be released when he is booked into jail. A motive remains under investigation. 

“The multiple hit and run crashes by the same suspect yesterday were traumatic for our community,” said Chief Chuck Lovell. “Thank you to the many community members who responded to assist victims and alerted police to the suspect. All of us at PPB send our sincere condolences to the loved ones of the person who was killed as well as our hopes for recovery to those injured. We are committed to a full investigation so that the person involved can be held accountable for these senseless acts of violence.”

Detectives ask that if community members where witness to any of the driving behaviors associated to a silver Honda Element in or around the crime scene area to please call detectives.

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