Police: Sunnyvale crash driver targeted family thinking they were Muslim
The driver who plowed car into crowd of pedestrians was targeting family he thought were Muslims, police said Friday in a news conference shortly after suspect was arraigned in court.
SUNNYVALE — A driver who used his car to intentionally run down pedestrians earlier this week apparently was targeting a family he thought were Muslims, police said Friday, at a news conference held shortly after the suspect in the attack was arraigned in court.
Police, who are treating the crash as a hate crime, said they think the driver, Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, targeted the family purely based on their appearance. Three family members — the father, a 13-year-old daughter and her 9-year-old brother — were among the eight people injured in the crash. The daughter was the most severely hurt. She is in a coma and fighting for her life, police said.
“New evidence shows that the defendant intentionally targeted the victims based on their race, and his belief that they were of the Muslim faith,” Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Chief Phan Ngo said. He declined to say whether Peoples had followed the family or whether his attack was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Peoples told detectives that he meant to hit the victims, but did not offer a motive or exhibit any remorse for his alleged acts. The FBI was alerted, but to date, police say they have found no evidence that terrorism was behind Peoples’ driving his car into crowded crosswalk and then onto the sidewalk, sending people flying.
Multiple witness accounts described Peoples as saying, “I love you, Jesus,” “Thank you Jesus,” and “Praise Jesus,” or words to that effect after the crash, language that continued as he was being taken from the scene in handcuffs. Peoples’ father was a nondenominational Christian pastor, his brother said.