Who could do something like this? And why?
Those are the questions many people asked themselves following the mass weaponized driving incident that left one person dead and many others injured on Monday, January 25th.
Three days later, a picture of the man who perpetrated this violence is beginning to emerge.
64-year-old Paul Rivas made his first appearance in court on Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty to all 14 felony counts against him. (Note: It is standard practice for a defendant to plead not guilty at arraignments.)
The Multnomah County District Attorney has charged Rivas with murder in the second degree, seven counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver and six counts of assault in the second degree. “It is alleged that Rivas used his vehicle as a dangerous weapon to cause the death of Ms. [Jean] Gerich and to cause physical injury to at least six other people,” the DA’s office wrote in a statement yesterday.
Rivas is alleged to have been behind the wheel of the silver Honda Element SUV when he decided to go on a murderous rampage that covered dozens of city blocks — from 15th to 33rd and Belmont to Stark — leaving shock and horror in his wake throughout the Laurelhurst and Buckman neighborhoods of inner southeast Portland.
The DA says detectives have testimony from numerous witnesses who say 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.”
According to the probable cause affidavit filed yesterday by the State of Oregon, Rivas told investigators several odd claims about what happened on Monday. “At times he claimed he was having brake problems and that he had been searching for an open auto repair shop,” the document said. Rivas also at first tried to say the crimes were committed by someone else in a similar SUV, but he ultimately admitted he was the one driving.
A story by The Oregonian based on the court hearing yesteray story includes claims made by Rivas that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Their story lists several details of Rivas’ personal life and his multiple previous run-ins with the law. Among them are two protective orders filed against him and a license suspension in 2013 that followed a failure to provide proof of compliance on three convictions for failing to obey traffic signals. His license was reinstated in 2014.
Rivas’ next court date is scheduled for February 4th.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.