The 33-year-old driver whose Cutlass rammed into a San Jose Walmart on Easter Sunday was charged Thursday with attempted murder, along with a slew of other charges, in a bizarre and violent rampage that could land him a life sentence in prison if he is convicted of all counts.
Haamid Zaid now faces 12 charges, which also include assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run and vandalism, stemming from Easter Sunday at 11:15 a.m. That's when witnesses and prosecutors say the Seaside mechanic who has a prior criminal record rammed his 1974 red Cutlass into the Walmart on Story Road. His car smashed into a beer display, and he allegedly began attacking customers with a metal club.
In court on Thursday, Zaid did not enter a plea and was told to return to court on April 10. He has declined a jailhouse interview.
His lawyer said outside court he thought the charges were off base. He said that he wasn't ready to make a full statement, adding he had just recieved a lot of discovery material. When asked about his client's mental state, he said he was "doing fine emotionally."
Prosecutors said on Thursday that two people were hurt and an employee was struck unconscious. Zaid was ultimately subdued by irate customers who held him down until police could arrive. Some of the aftermath was caught on YouTube, filmed by Raymond Raborar, who was shopping in the pharmacy while his mother was nearby at church.
“This is a very serious case,’’ Deputy District Attorney Deborah Hernandez said. “Mr. Zaid endangered innocent people in that neighborhood, in the parking lot, and spending their Sunday shopping inside a store.”
In court records reviewed by NBC Bay Area earlier this week, Zaid was facing other charges, which show a pattern of drug use, paranoia and violence. Some of those cases are active and Zaid was supposed to have returned to court on April 9 on those separate drug charges.
The past cases were mostly misdemeanor charges that included being under-the-influence and driving with a suspended license from 2011and 2012.
But in a case from December of 2012, Zaid was charged with having a felony amount of methamphetamine and for causing property damage when he plowed a 2004 silver Lexus into Capitol Premier Car Wash on West Capitol Expressway in San Jose. The car crashed through double-pane glass into the store, destroying several food and beverage stands, and nearly missing two employees, records show. Owner Chuck Brassfield said it was lucky no one was hurt and he was floored when he learned that the same driver was now accused of the Walmart rampage.
He told the officer at the time, court records show, that he had "snorted meth" that day and thought people were out to shoot him. (Watch exclusive video of that car wash incident here)
In October of that same year, Zaid was charged with property destruction when he threw a chair through a window of Rosie McCann's Irish Pub and Restaurant in Santana Row while high on cocaine.
Zaid's mother, Rosemary Zaid, told NBC Bay Area on Monday that her son had no criminal record and that he was an "excellent" student at Seaside High School, where he attended before moving to San Jose, where she said he had automotive companies. NBC Bay Area did not immediately find a record of those companies.
The story has made national news, in large part because of the brazen attack on Easter and in part because of the cell phone video taken by customers inside the store. NBC Bay Area obtained some of that video that showed a wild and hectic scene inside the store.