Driver in clown mask arrested after attack on bicyclist

A driver wearing a clown mask allegedly drove into a bicyclist in Santa Cruz last week in what police are calling a case of mistaken identity.

The hit and run collision involving a pickup truck and a bicyclist occurred on Soquel Avenue on the San Lorenzo Bridge around 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 24, according to police.

The bicyclist in the collision, a 39-year-old transient from Santa Cruz, sustained life-threatening injuries and is recovering at a Bay Area trauma center, police said.

Investigators realized the collision was an attempted homicide when witnesses told them the driver was wearing a clown mask as he drove at the bicyclist, and that he appeared to intentionally accelerate and swerve to hit him, police said.

Police found suspect Jeremy Anecito, a 28-year-old resident of the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz, staying in a room at the Saint George hotel. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide.

Detectives located a green 1995 Chevy pickup thought to have been involved in the collision on Oct. 1 in the parking garage hotel. It sustained damage to the right rear end, and had a clown mask still in the truck, police said.

The bicyclist was traveling east on the bridge on the westbound side, against the flow of traffic, and the truck was traveling east when the collision occurred. Witnesses said the truck driver accelerated, causing the tires to squeal and drove on the wrong side of the road to hit the bicyclist, according to police.

Detectives believe Anecito mistook the bicyclist for someone with whom he had a prior dispute.