Portland, OR – A homeless man who pushed his way into a Portland ambulance and nearly murdered a paramedic in a bloody, unprovoked attack in February will serve no additional time in jail.
“He tried everything in his power to kill me. He stabbed me, he cut me, he bit me and, thankfully, he was unsuccessful,” paramedic Pavel Aubuchon-Mendoza told Multnomah County Judge Kathleen Dailey on Tuesday, according to KATU.
The incident occurred on Feb. 25, as the American Medical Response (AMR) paramedics were stopped at a traffic light near Sheridan Street and Southwest Fifth Avenue, The Oregonian reported.
“The unit was not assigned to any particular 9-1-1 call. They were simply driving in normal traffic,” AMR spokesperson Robert McDonald told KATU at the time. "For something like this, there's zero warning, there's no reason to believe you're in an unsafe environment.”
As the unsuspecting paramedics waited in traffic, 38-year-old Jeremiah Ray yanked open the passenger door of the ambulance, clambered inside, and made his way to the back portion of the unit, The Oregonian reported.
Aubuchon-Mendoza said that Ray attacked him with a knife when he followed him into the rear of the ambulance.
According to court documents, Ray proceeded to choke and bite Aubuchon-Mendoza, then stabbed him in the shoulder with the knife, KPTV reported.
The ambulance driver got out of the vehicle and opened the back doors, and the duo was able to fight Ray off, according to The Oregonian.
Ray jumped out of the ambulance and ran inside the nearby Duniway Deli, where he toppled shelves and destroyed a piece of Plexiglas, KATU reported.
The store owner hid behind a sink, but was ultimately able to escape and called police.
Ray attempted to flee from officers on foot, but was apprehended.
Investigators also recovered the suspect’s knife at the scene.
According to police, Ray said he has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and manic depression, and that he had been living off of food stamps since he moved to Portland four months prior, The Oregonian reported.
He has previous convictions in Texas for providing false information and drug possession.
On Tuesday, Ray pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a weapon and third-degree assault in connection with the attack on Aubuchon-Mendoza.
“Nothing will undo the trauma that the victims in this case experienced,” Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney BJ Park said in a news release, according to The Oregonian. “No one should ever be attacked. The fact that this happened to a first responder is shocking. Our paramedics help heal our community each day.”
“Jeremiah Ray must be held accountable for his actions, but we also recognize there can be alternative approaches that ensure he receives treatment while simultaneously promoting public safety,” Park said.
Dailey sentenced Ray to the maximum sentence of 14 days in jail – which he avoided post-sentencing with credit for time already served – followed by three years of probation, KATU reported.
He was also ordered to complete a mental health evaluation, and to participate in treatment, if deemed necessary, according to The Oregonian.
Paramedics who attended the sentencing hearing said that they have become “easy prey” in Portland, and that more needs to be done to help protect them from people like Ray, KATU reported.
“He was indicted with five felony counts,” Aubuchon-Mendoza told the court. “How he was released to the street, and how he’s…going to receive probation is a complete mystery to me.”
“We are powerless to protect ourselves,” another paramedic, Jeffrey Birre, told Dailey.
“Everyone treated us with respect because regardless of circumstance, we treated everyone the same, Birre said. “We were never targeted. This has changed. We are targeted as easy prey on the city streets of Portland.”
Dailey said that, in her “personal opinion,” the “mental health system is broken,” and urged AMR to pursue a law change with the Legislature.
“We do have resources that we can utilize to try and make sure our voice is heard there,” McDonald said. “I have full commitment that I intend to do that.”