A man charged with second-degree murder and six counts of second-degree assault after he allegedly ran over pedestrians and cyclists Monday in Portland, Oregon, has pleaded not guilty.
Paul Rivas made his first court appearance Wednesday. He also faces seven counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver.
Rivas was detained after a Honda SUV racing along streets of southeast Portland hit people on bicycles and walking along the road then later crashed.
“During the investigation, law enforcement spoke with numerous witnesses and learned Rivas appeared to be deliberately attempting to strike nearby vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians by swerving towards them while in the roadway and while on the sidewalk,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said in a statement.
Rivas, 64, of Oregon City, did not speak to the judge but could be heard in court talking to his temporary counsel, Emma McDermott, peppering her with questions about the charges he is facing.
He also expressed some concern to the attorney about the fact that there were cameras in court. “Do they have to take my picture today?” Rivas asked. McDermott informed him she could not prevent the media from recording him since it was a public hearing.
Jean Gerich, 77, of Portland died after being hit, according to police.
The Oregon state medical examiner has determined Gerich died of blunt force trauma and ruled her death a homicide, according to the statement.
Gerich’s family released a statement through police saying she was a longtime resident of Portland, a mother of two, and grandmother of five. “She received her first vaccination shot last week and was overjoyed to get out in the world again,” the statement said.
“We are grateful for the good Samaritans who were at the scene,” the family said.
Scene stretched over a dozen blocks
The incident left 10 people injured, including Gerich. Police said two of those were cyclists, seven were pedestrians, and one victim who couldn’t recall if they were in or out of their vehicle when they were hit. The scene stretched over more than a dozen blocks in southeast Portland, on both roads and sidewalks, officials said.
Police were first notified about an erratic driver around noon Monday and calls about injured people began shortly after 1 p.m. ET.
“Additional witness reports indicate the suspect was traveling approximately 50-60 mph in other parts of the neighborhood as he continued with his erratic driving,” police said.
The vehicle eventually crashed and the driver tried to run but was stopped by civilians until police arrived, authorities said.