Suspect in deadly SE Portland hit-run appears in court


Paul Rivas of Oregon City is facing multiple charges, including 2nd-degree murder

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The man accused of hitting several people, killing one of them, during a violent hit-and-run rampage in Southeast Portland made his first court appearance on Wednesday.

Authorities said 64-year-old Paul Rivas of Oregon City is charged with 2nd-degree murder, seven counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver and six counts of 2nd-degree assault.

Rivas entered a not guilty plea before a Multnomah County judge Wednesday afternoon. He is due back in court on Feb. 4.

Multiple crime scenes

Investigators said there were multiple crime scenes and that the deadly rampage began near Laurelhurst Park around 1 p.m on Monday when the driver slammed into several people on the sidewalk along a stretch of SE Stark Street.

Paul Rivas makes his first court appearance for his alleged role in a deadly hit-and-run rampage in Portland, Jan. 27, 2021. (KOIN)

The crime scenes spanned from Southeast Cesar E. Chavez Blvd and Southeast 15th Avenue, from East Burnside Street to Southeast Belmont Street. 

Court documents state Rivas was speeding and intentionally hitting people while behind the wheel of a Honda Element. Witnesses described Rivas as swerving to hit vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians, then driving away without stopping.

Eventually, Rivas allegedly attempted to run away on foot after crashing into another vehicle, but people in the neighborhood helped “corral” him until police could take him into custody. He was taken to a hospital, then released and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center.

At least six people were injured during the violent rampage. But 77-year-old Jean Gerich died of her injuries. A vigil was held Tuesday evening.

Marie Nevarra told KOIN 6 News she was a close friend of Gerich’s and lived in the same retirement community. Nevarra described Gerich as someone who was “very touched by the needs of humanity and nature.”

“She touched so many people and those people are very said,” Nevarra said. She said she hopes the person responsible will be “held accountable for this terrible event.”

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