A man who allegedly drove his vehicle into a crowd of people on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale on Tuesday is not affiliated with any terrorist organizations, the city’s Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, of Sunnyvale, admitted to driving the car into the crowd intentionally, according to Capt. Jim Choi. A 13-year-old Sunnyvale girl suffered the most serious injuries and is currently in critical condition.
Four other victims are hospitalized, but in stable condition, and two victims were treated and released at the scene. One of them is a 9-year-old boy, who may not have been directly hit, but suffered minor bruising after being pulled away by a parent, Choi said.
The crash happened at El Camino Real and Saratoga Sunnyvale Road around 6:40 p.m. A man driving a black, four-door sedan west on El Camino Real struck pedestrians in the Saratoga Sunnyvale crosswalk, then hit pedestrians waiting to cross the road.
Peoples has been booked into Santa Clara County Jail and faces eight charges of attempted murder. Chief Phan Ngo said he is not associated with any known terrorist groups, and the crash does not appear to be an act of terrorism.
The FBI is assisting Sunnyvale officers, but is not heading the investigation.
FBI San Francisco spokesman Prentice Danner said in a statement Wednesday:
“Should it be determined that a federal crime was committed, we will become more involved. For now the Sunnyvale [DPS] is the lead agency.”
Shantain Vargas, a San Jose resident and contractor at Google, saw police vehicles rushing past her around the time of the crash. She followed them to the scene and saw officers arresting Peoples, a Sunnyvale resident, before they had set up caution tape and barriers.
She said she heard Peoples say, “Thank you Jesus, praise Jesus,” and that he appeared to be completely coherent. Vargas said:
“He seemed like, completely fine, totally normal and nothing was wrong with him.”
Vargas said she saw police handcuff Peoples and later take him into custody.
She said there was blood everywhere, and that she saw a young man lying in the bushes at the intersection and two other victims:
“I can’t get the image of the victim out of my head.”
Choi confirmed that Peoples thanked God and appeared to wait for officers at the scene. His motive is under investigation. Investigators are also looking into the possibility that the man had a mental illness, and said there are no other suspects involved.