Last Sunday, a driver swerved around a barrier and then sped his pickup truck down a blocked-off Portland street, screaming obscenities as cyclists dodged out of the way. A video of the incident was published by BikePortland earlier this week.
It happened near Southeast Mill Street and 130th Avenue on Aug. 21. The street was closed to traffic for Sunday Parkways, one of two city-sponsored events this summer where bicycles and pedestrians take over the roads.
Nick Kahl, a lawyer and former state legislator, was there with his wife and two kids. He called the police and gave them a description of the black Chevy truck and its license plate number. His call was never returned, he tells WW.
A spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, Derek Carmon, told WW that officers did not respond to the scene because “a supervisor referred the call as an information call,” which could have been because no crime occurred or because officers were busy with other, higher-priority calls. (The bureau has said that it is critically understaffed and struggling to offer even baseline services, like responding to 911 emergencies.)
“He doesn’t menace anyone with a firearm, which would be a crime,” Carmon said. He added that driving on a closed street “could be a violation” but that it appeared from the video that volunteers were allowing him to proceed.
“It also appears that another car was also traveling down these closed streets, so it is difficult to say how well managed the event was,” Carmon added.
WW obtained Clark County court records that identify the driver of the Chevy as Max Bruhn.
Just minutes after the incident, Bruhn posted threats on Facebook. “Next time it happens I’m just going to run you guys over,” he wrote. “All life splatter[,] everybody remember that,” he added.
Reached by WW on the phone, Bruhn acknowledged being the driver of the truck.
“I just lost my temper because of the heat and being exhausted,” Bruhn told WW.
Bruhn was widely reported to have waved around a gun during the incident. In the video, he slams an object down on the dashboard.
Bruhn told WW that it was a wallet. He said he called the police after seeing himself on the news. “I talked to the police and there was no big deal. I didn’t hurt anybody,” he said.
Jenny Smith, Kahl’s wife, was there at event that weekend with their two children, ages 1and 4. She witnessed the driver first pulling up to the street and berating a volunteer. Smith was shocked.
“I was certainly concerned for the safety of everyone around and worried about what this guy with a giant truck was going to do,” she said.
After Kahl called police, Smith waited around. But the cops never came, she said. She checked back in a half hour later with the volunteer who was berated by the driver. That volunteer told Smith the police never arrived.
“It’s really scary,” Smith said. “To think that somebody can do something like that, and then there’s no response or accountability.”