Witness: Deadly car spree a 'mass shooting without the guns'
Mourners remembered the Portland woman killed in a hit-and-run rampage as an energetic spirit who widely participated in group activities at her retirement home before the pandemic.
Jean Gerich, 77, died after a driver struck her once — then returned and hit her again — during a spree of violence that left nine other pedestrians, cyclists and motorists injured over the hour-long incident that blazed a mile long trail of violence on Monday, Jan. 25.
Police identified the suspect in the case as Paul Rivas, a 64-year-old Oregon City resident, just before midnight on Jan. 26. Videos showed that Rivas was detained at the scene by bystanders in the Buckman neighborhood of Southeast Portland.
As a somber snow fell on the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 26, those affected by the loss of life gathered at the covered playground of Buckman Elementary School, where they shared stories of Gerich's life before marching with candles to the spot where she died, which is now marked with a memorial of flowers and a smiling statue of Buddha.
Jeanne Pace, a fellow resident at Holladay Park Plaza, said the two became friends while playing water volleyball or attending book club before COVID restrictions arrived.
A crowd gathered in a Portland tonight to honor the 10 victims of a targeted hit-and-run spree, that left one person dead pic.twitter.com/Wk4ENYez6v— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) January 27, 2021
"She was so full of life, so energetic," said Pace. "It seemed so random, and hard to believe."
Gerich had just stepped out after an appointment with a massage therapist when she was struck on 19th Avenue between Washington and Stark streets, said the masseuse, who asked not to be named.
"It was horrifying to all of us," he told the Tribune. "It was like a mass shooting without the guns. People were on their porches, on the street, screaming in unimaginable trauma."
Police have not detailed a motive for Rivas, though the incident is not believed to be related to domestic terrorism.
Gerich had moved into Holladay Park Plaza in 2016 with her husband, Jerry, who had passed the following year, recalled another resident of the community.
"She was a gentle soul. Just very engaged in meeting and talking with people," the resident said. "But with COViD now, our paths were not crossing."
In a statement, her family described Gerich as a grandmother of five, a hiker who loved strolling in Forest Park and a resident of Portland since 1972.
The massage therapist said he heard "a scream and the impact" before he rushed outside. A retired pediatrician happened to be walking nearby, he said, who "was able to help her in the time between life and death."
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