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Driver in deadly Portland car rampage intended to hit and injure people, police say

A man is alleged to have struck 10 people, almost all of them pedestrians, in a crime scene that stretched blocks. A 77-year-old grandmother died.
Image: Image: car hits pedestrians
A driver struck at least 10 people over 20 blocks of Southeast Portland, Ore., on Monday before crashing and fleeing, witnesses said. Beth Nakamura / The Oregonian via AP

Portland, Oregon, police say that they have found no evidence of terrorism, bias or a political motivation in a series of hit-and run crashes in which 10 people were struck and one person died Monday but that the driver's actions show he meant to hit them.

Police have not released the name of the suspect, who was arrested after he crashed a Honda Element and was "corralled" by people in the neighborhood. He was at a hospital Tuesday.

"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 in a statement Tuesday. "Detectives say that the driver's actions did show intent to hit and injure people."

Killed was Jean Gerich, 77, a grandmother of five. Her family said in a statement released by police that she was a cancer survivor who lived in Portland for 48 years.

"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," her family said.

"She received her first vaccination shot last week and was overjoyed to get out in the world again," her family said.

Police said the suspect's name and charges would be released once he is booked. Police said a blood sample has been taken and sent to a lab.

Police Chief Chuck Lovell called Monday's events "senseless acts of violence." He said the police department expressed condolences for Gerich's family and to those injured.

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Witnesses said that the suspect was driving erratically and narrowly missed one person and that the first pedestrian who was struck was hit at around 1:02 p.m.

The driver struck 10 people in all, as well as cars, police said. Seven were pedestrians, and two were bicyclists. One of the victims could not remember whether they were in or outside their vehicle when they were struck, police said.

Police said most victims suffered minor injuries.

The crime scene stretches more than a dozen blocks. From where police said the first person was struck to where he crashed is around a mile.

A police spokesman said Monday that the vehicle was driven on the street and also up onto sidewalks.

Mayor Ted Wheeler called the incident disturbing and thanked "the many people who went above and beyond in responding to this incident," from police and first responders to the witnesses and those who intervened to help apprehend the suspect.

Gerich's family said they were grateful to the good Samaritans who were at the scene. They asked for privacy.