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Police: Terrorism didn’t motivate fatal Oregon car attack

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 26, 2021

Associated Press

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, Oregon, killing a 77-year-old woman and injuring nine other people, 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 striking the woman, who was dragged a short distance beneath the wheels of a small SUV, and then continuing to drive, hitting other people and vehicles. After the driver fled on foot, neighbors surrounded him until police arrived.

The woman, who died at a hospital, was identified as Jean Gerich of Portland, police said. The Oregon State Medical Examiner determined she died of blunt force trauma and ruled her death a homicide, according to police.

“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 that a driver had hit a pedestrian, police spokesman Derek Carmon said.

Additional calls came in from people saying someone driving the same vehicle, a Honda Element, was striking other people and vehicles over a 15-block span, at times reaching speeds of 60 mph, Carmon said.

Nine other people who were hit, including pedestrians and cyclists, suffered minor injuries and were recovering, police said.

Larry Wolfe told the Oregonian/OregonLive that he had an appointment with the woman who was killed and saw her get hit by the car and scream. He was walking toward her when the car came back, hit her again, did a U-turn and dragged her along the pavement, he said. The driver eventually crashed and ran away before a group of people corralled him, Carmon said.

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