In another series of this month’s hateful events comes the news of a man who plowed his Toyota Corolla into a group of pedestrians at a crowded intersection in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Isaiah J. Peoples, a 34-year-old army veteran, intentionally drove his car into a crowd of people in Sunnyvale because he thought some of them were Muslim, police said Friday.
Peoples is accused of hitting eight pedestrians with his car on Tuesday, April 23. According to police, Peoples had picked up food and was driving to a Bible study group when he deliberately drove into a crosswalk.
“Based on our investigation, new evidence shows that the defendant intentionally targeted victims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Muslim faith,” Sunnyvale police chief Phan Ngo said outside court.
“We understand that you will have many questions based on this announcement. However, we will not be releasing further information for now.”
Peoples faces eight counts of attempted murder in the incident, in which eight people were injured. Three of the victims were minors, including a 13-year-old girl, who remains in critical condition.
Witnesses told the local San Francisco news, that he reached speeds of 60 miles per hour before striking the victims.
“After crashing, he dragged himself out of the sedan and repeatedly moaned, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ witnesses told the San Fransico Chronicle. Police found a disassembled, inoperative shotgun in the Toyota.”
Peoples appeared in court on Friday and is being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Jail. His lawyer Chuck Smith told reporters he will enter a plea on May 16.
During a news conference after the court hearing, the New York Times reported, Smith focused heavily on Peoples’s military experience and how the time may have affected him. Peoples served in the Army from 2004 to 2006 and in the Army Reserve from 2006 to 2008, he said.
“His mental state is going to be the battleground in the case,” Smith said. “We’re going to have him evaluated by the best people we can find because, like all veterans, he deserves the best people we can find.”
“This,” he added, “is obviously a story that we’re seeing unfold in many, many cases across the country.”