Diamond and Clarissa Roman

Food Not Bombs Reno volunteers Diamond Roman (right) and her daughter Clarissa Roman (left) were critically injured in an April 3, 2023 car attack in downtown Reno that killed unhoused woman Michelle "Mama Bear" Jardine.

(Photo: Family photo/Food Not Bombs Reno)

Shock, Grief After Unhoused Woman Killed and Volunteers Injured in Reno Car Attack

"At the end of the day, it's not going to stop Food Not Bombs," vowed one injured volunteer. "It's not going to stop our effort in the community."

A Nevada man has been arrested and charged with murder after allegedly telling police he intentionally rammed his car into a group of volunteers feeding unhoused people in Reno on Monday evening, killing one woman and critically injuring two others.

Michelle "Mama Bear" Jardine, a 55-year-old unhoused woman, died after David Turner drove his vehicle into a weekly Food Not Bombs Reno food distribution near the CARES Campus, a shelter for unhoused people run by Washoe County in downtown Reno.

Diamond Roman and her daughter Clarissa Roman were also struck by Turner. According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Diamond was struck with such force her body flew across the hood of the car.

Witness Alexander Molchor toldKOLO that he heard a "clash of people and a car" and then saw "two members from Food Not Bombs, my aunt and my cousin. Then I see 'Mama Bear' Michelle on the floor."

"We immediately went to all three of them, called 911, stabilized my aunt, and then made sure my cousin was still on her side in case she seized," Molchor added. "Then I checked on the pulse for Michelle and she was barely pulsing."

The women were rushed to hospital, where Jardine was pronounced dead.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by Tina Compston for the injured women and Jardine's burial expenses:

Diamond and Clarissa Roman were doing what they do best—giving back to our community through a food for the homeless program, which they started, cook for, manage, and run with their family and friends. As the team of community volunteers were wrapping up the evening, Diamond and Clarissa were assisting a woman as she was choosing what items she could use from the clothing donation Diamond brought along with the meal that night. At that time, a man suddenly and inexplicably drove his car through the area where the women were standing, hitting Diamond, Clarissa, and the other woman. All three ladies were transported to the hospital where Diamond and Clarissa were listed in critical condition upon assessment by emergency medical staff. Sadly, the other woman succumbed to her injuries.

Diamond arrived in the emergency room with a broken back. Clarissa's condition upon arrival at the ER was significant. She had a broken clavicle, broken ankle, broken ribs, collapsed lung, and a brain bleed.

Turner, who is 57, was arrested and charged with one count of open murder and two counts of attempted murder after he allegedly told police he rammed the group on purpose, KRNV reports. His motive was unclear.

"Why would someone do this? We don’t understand," Celeste Tinajero, Clarissa Roman's sister, told the Gazette Journal.

In recent years, vehicular attacks have increased as right-wing extremists target racial justice and other protesters. Instead of moving to protect people from assaults like the 2017 white supremacist murder of Heather Heyer, numerous Republican-led states have passed laws shielding motorists who strike protesters under certain circumstances. Right-wing pundits, police, and even a professor have advocated running over protesters.

According to Biggest Little Food Not Bombs—not associated with Reno Food Not Bombs—"our unhoused neighbors are disproportionately represented in traffic fatalities and are often targeted in incidents of 'road rage.'"

"Here in Reno, 5 out of 7 pedestrian fatalities in 2022 were either homeless or at risk of homelessness," the group added.

In an update, Compston said Diamond Roman was released from the hospital Wednesday, while Clarissa Roman was moved from intensive care.

"It's unbelievable that something like this would happen, that this is something that we would have to worry about."

"My family has been volunteering with Food Not Bombs and doing feeds like this for years now, over 10 years," Clarissa Roman told KTVN Wednesday. "And so it's unbelievable that something like this would happen, that this is something that we would have to worry about."

"At the end of the day, it's not going to stop Food Not Bombs," she added. "It's not going to stop our effort in the community."

Prior to Monday's attack, the worst that Food Not Bombs had to endure were struggles with local authorities in various cities around the nation who tried to block the global volunteer movement from sharing vegan and vegetarian meals with community members in need.

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