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April 17, 2021

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Police: Terrorism didn’t motivate fatal Portland car attack

Driver of vehicle with Washington plates in the hospital as of Tuesday morning

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PORTLAND — Investigators have found no evidence that terrorism, politics or any bias motivated a driver who repeatedly drove into people along streets and sidewalks in Portland killing one and injuring nine others, police said Tuesday.

The driver, whose name has not been released, was hospitalized and was expected to be booked into jail afterward, the Portland Police Bureau said in a news release. Police didn’t give the man’s condition or say why he is in a hospital.

He’s accused of hitting 77-year-old Jean Gerich of Portland who was dragged beneath the wheels of a Honda Element with Washington plates, then trying to run away. But neighbors surrounded him until police arrived and took him into custody. The woman later died.

“Detectives 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,” police said. “Detectives say that the driver’s actions did show intent to hit and injure people.”

Police received a call Monday afternoon that a driver had hit a pedestrian near Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland, police spokesman Derek Carmon said.

Additional calls came in from people saying someone driving the same vehicle was striking other people and vehicles over a 15-block span, at times reaching speeds of 50 to 60 mph from 33rd to 18th avenues, along Stark, Pine, Washington and Belmont streets, Carmon said.

Gerich died at a hospital hours after being struck, and nine others, which included pedestrians and cyclists, suffered minor injuries and were recovering, police said.

Larry Wolfe told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he had an appointment to meet Gerich. He said he saw her get hit by the car and scream and that he was walking toward her when the car came back, hit her again, did a U-turn and dragged her along the pavement.

After continuing to drive recklessly and hitting other people, the driver eventually crashed a final time near 18th and Stark Street, ran away and a group of people corralled him until police arrived, Carmon said.

Police said the name of the woman who was killed would be released later Tuesday.

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