isaiah peoples (Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety)

California Driver Faces 8 Counts of Attempted Murder After Car Rams Pedestrians

A driver faces eight counts of attempted murder after police said he deliberately plowed his car into a group of pedestrians Tuesday night in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety identified the driver as 34-year-old Isaiah Joel Peoples of Sunnyvale, who was born in San Francisco. Six of the victims were transported to local hospitals, with a 13-year-old being the most seriously injured; Peoples was not injured in the crash.

“There is no indication by evidence that we have so far that there was any association to any terrorist organization or any kind of statement that showed otherwise,” Capt. Jim Choi told reporters.

“The driver did not slow down, did not try to avoid the victims and also may have accelerated at the last moment,” Choi also noted.

In a video update today, Chief Phan S. Ngo said there was no apparent connection between Peoples and the victims.

“Following the collision, a witness reported that Peoples said something similar to ‘Thank you, God,'” Ngo said.

“The investigation is ongoing, and the motive for the attempted murders is not known at this time,” the chief continued. “Currently, there is no information linking the suspect to known terrorist organizations. There are no outstanding suspects in this case and it appears the suspect was acting alone.”

Ngo said the case was being investigated in conjunction with the FBI. The Bureau said it was “assessing the situation to determine federal involvement” and would proceed according to their findings.

Family members of the suspect said Peoples served in Afghanistan and was discharged from the Army because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“While we don’t know the motive for this attack, the use of a vehicle as a weapon in a terrorist attack or hate crime is not new,” Brian Harrell, assistant director for infrastructure security at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told HSToday. “Recent incidents and violent extremist propaganda demonstrate that the use of vehicles as a weapon continues to be of interest by those wishing to cause harm. Attacks of this nature require minimal capability, but can have a devastating impact in our local communities.”

“You might recall, in October 2017, an ISIS-inspired individual used a commercial-grade rental truck to attack pedestrians on a busy bicycle path near lower Manhattan, New York City, killing 8 and injuring more than 11 others,” Harrell added. “In November 2016, a personal vehicle was used to strike pedestrians on a sidewalk at Ohio State University, injuring 11 people. A vehicle as a weapon can kill or injure large groups with very little effort.”

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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